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Living life… (Or, the world of a Teacher)

April 21, 2010

As a potential teacher facing college graduation in a year, I must ask myself quite a few questions.

Where am I going to graduate school?  How am I going to pay for it?  How hard will it be to start over in a brand new place?  Will I lose touch with my family altogether, or will I come back to Arkansas?  What if I find someone where I go, and they don’t want to live here?  What if I never see any of my friends again?  Will I even be a good teacher?  Is this going to be worth it?  What is going to happen to me?

Amidst all of these questions, I find myself still going to class, still living the college life that I’ve grown accustomed to, and among these daily activities I am studying American writers like Thoreau and Emerson.

If you’re not acquainted with these guys it’s totally cool, I’ll give you the scoop.  Basically they were writers and thinkers that loved Nature and wanted people to live better than the money-grabbing, materialistic life that is so common in America.

You gotta admit.  We Americans really like our stuff.

But beyond that, the idea of living your life for what you want to do, rather than what is expected of you, is an idea that we have close to our hearts.  As a culture which celebrates the individual, we are always asked:  What do you want to do with the rest of your life?

Unfortunately, the answer is expected to fit into a certain mold, a certain suitable career, a certain college, leaving little room for creativity.  The path to success is long, hard, and uncertain, except that you must keep to the path.

But…  What if I want to take a better look at the present?

Here’s what I’m afraid of:

I’ve been in school since I was 5 years old.  I graduated High School at 18 and went straight to college.  I’ll graduate from college when I am 22.  I’ll go to graduate school until I’m about 25.  I’ll become a teacher by the time I’m 26.  I’ll probably move around, go to different schools, but essentially I will teach until I can retire (which by the time I’m that old will probably be about age 150).

This all sounds wonderful to me, the kind of person who has always excelled academically and hated summer vacation, because I will get to spend the rest of my life in school.

But the thing is… I will be spending the rest of my life in school. Will I ever know what it is like in the real world?  Will I ever get any real experience?  If I don’t, can I possibly ever have the chance of being a good teacher?

I don’t want to settle into my comfort zone and be just another kind of closed-minded.

What else could I do, though? ……. This question has been haunting me for weeks, ever since my class first started covering these writers.  I’m not really good at anything else, I’ve never really tried anything else.  I wouldn’t know what to do with myself without school.

The more puzzled I am by this question, the more compelled I feel to answer it.  So that’s what I’m working on now.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Alex permalink
    April 21, 2010 8:23 pm

    [Hmm…I followed a link on facebook to get here (where is “here”, anyway? I’ve never heard of this site before). The picture fooled me, I thought “The Wizard of Oz” was the topic of discussion.]

    I too have been pondering this question a lot lately. Like you, I’ve been in school since I was 5 and went straight to college after graduating high school; I was even planning on plowing through my Doctorates before I started my career. I use to enjoy the time spent in class, but over the past couple semesters I have grown restless. These are supposedly the best years of our lives, and the thought of spending them tucked away inside a bland, off-white-box of a room terrifies me. So, I try to find a balance. Recall almost any poet we’ve studied whilst locked away at UCA: yes, they were [mostly] college educated, but after they graduated they traveled abroad. Traveling is essential. It introduces you into new cultures, situation, people and thus broadens your world view by forcing you to reanalyze everything you thought you knew. Study prepares you, travel allows you to apply your studies.

    You say you don’t know what to do with yourself without school. Bullhockey! You are a human being; you’re alive. UCA is nothing, its has no soul. It is an idea that was given physical form through concrete and steel, both which were made by…human beings. Don’t let it get you down. So my suggestion is this: Decide what it is about school that makes you happy, and then try to incorporate that in everyday life.

    Okay, this is getting a bit too longwinded for a reply to a blog post.

    Happy travels,

    Alex.

    P.S. In case this wasn’t made clear above, I have nothing against further education. I plan on getting a Masters degree some time…

  2. Jenna permalink
    April 22, 2010 1:17 pm

    since we’ve already had this discussion, I will just say that I love how visually driven your blog is : )

  3. June 14, 2010 2:21 am

    Wow! I keep stumbling up the most interesting blogs! I am a kindergarten teacher, have been for the past 20 years and just started my Master’s Degree. I can give this nugget of advice… teaching is different now than it was when I first started, I suggest you get out there after you graduate and find out if teaching is for you. Find a mentor, collaborate and become part of a professional learning community, get your feet wet. You will learn something about yourself that will help you decide if you want to pursue something else or just get better at what you are already doing. I can’t even imagine doing the work in my Master’s class without the experience I have had in teaching. You may find that a Master’s in administration is better suited to your leadership skills and committment to social change! You can enjoy your life and teach at the same time! That’s what Spring Break, Winter Break and Summer Break are for! Good Luck to you!

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