Friday, July 27, 2012

The Human Condition

Still and all, why bother? Here's my answer. Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.

Kurt Vonnegut

Some people know "what they're supposed to do" from the very get-go.  And by get-go, I mean as a child.  They may not know that they know it, but they know it.

I don't know if it's appropriate to say that I fall in that category or not.  I knew that, in those moments when I was teaching my younger brother, Derek, to do fractions and read as we sat beneath my bunk bed in a bean bag chair with my makeshift dry erase board, I was truly enjoying myself. Even if Derek didn't always grasp the concept right away. 

I enjoyed watching him learn. 
And I'm pleased to say that he is a very fine mathematics student to this day. 
(I like to think that I contributed to that in some way).

I knew, inherently, at that time that I was meant to be a teacher of some sort.  Whether it is just through talking with people and learning and teaching things via regular conversation or as the head of a classroom with the official title of "Miss F", I knew that I loved watching people's eyes as they absorbed and made sense of new information.  In the education world, we refer to it as the "Aha!" moment.

Or at least, on the Great Plains we do.

So right now, it's fairly easy to say that my discontentment with life comes not from my living situation (a spacious apartment/duplex with a dog is nothing to be discontented with), or my social situation (happily with a fella, have good friends I can call on any time and a supportive family), but it is with the fact that I feel like I'm not sharing and teaching enough.

It has taken me most of the summer to realize this.  I am happiest when I know that I am going to be a positive influence on someone that day.

(or, at least, I hope I'm a positive influence)

Which brings me to Mr. Vonnegut's quote.

For a long time.
Seriously. A Long Time.
I felt like:
 "Why does no one else seem to care so deeply as I do about eating foods of quality over quantity?" 
"Why does no one seem to care about the fact that our precious planet is being killed?" 
"Why does no one seem to care about the education system in our state?"  
"Why does no one question things?"

I mean, occasionally I would find one person who would think about  a few of the same things as I did.  I found friends that I could engage in conversations about these topics with.  In those ways, I found myself.

But, I felt like my education had failed me.
I felt like those were questions we were supposed to entertain in the later years of high school.  Sure, they may not be "on the test". The may not even mesh exactly with the subject matter, but anything can be taught in context if you try hard enough.

(I firmly believe that.  You want me to combine math and music? Done. Music and literature? Done. Music and science? Done.)

Anyway, that is why, I think, in High School I was content, but discontent.  Why I was constantly feeling like I need to find ways to push the envelope. To try and find ways to think (if that makes sense at all). I knew that there were questions that I wasn't being encouraged to ask, and I needed to find out what they where and why I should be asking them.

I felt like I needed a teacher to say:

I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.

So, when I decided (and by decided, I mean continued to fulfill the calling that I had felt since I was 10) to be a teacher, I decided that I wanted to be a teacher that continually reassured students that there is always someone that you can talk to.  If they bring up a topic I don't know about, I, as the teacher should be so interested in encouraging them to be curious that I will do research on it myself, or point them in the direction of someone with similar interests who will be happy to ask questions with them.

I want to be a teacher that students remember as a mentor more than a lecturer.  A guider of those with curiosity versus a talker of topics and nothing else.  I think that may be the concept of a true educator, way back in the day, back when people asked questions and didn't accept the status quo.

So, I guess what you could say is that I want to be old-school.....yo.

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