The Shadow of Doubt: Darkness Easily Dissolved by Dostoevsky, Donne, and the Outspoken Apology of a Pre-Service Teacher

22 Mar

Click me!

I’m just going to say it: the current state of affairs in the field of education makes me incredibly uncomfortable.

Why am I going to be a teacher? What am I getting myself into? The political stage is mess, the public has taken a stand against teachers and the profession, and reforms encouraging the turnover of education into a private business are readily being passed and accepted on the basis of faith, i.e. despite all the excitement about charter schools, there is still no research to support the claims that charter schools outperform public schools. Again, read the research here.

Education does not look like a promising profession in which to devote oneself. The teacher is no longer the apple of the public’s eye, the security of a wage over minimum may disappear with the advent of charters, and with curriculum reform, teachers may even lose the ability to choose the content of their classroom. In addition, reforms are moving toward merit pay – the idea that a teacher’s worth is based upon his or her students’ standardized test scores. Standardized testing, properly utilized, is a tool which the teacher uses to determine where a student stands academically. If a student enters 8th grade reading at a 4th grade level, the teacher can use that report to individualize the student’s education and help them advance their reading abilities. If a teacher is judged upon the ability of all students to achieve at one standard level, merit pay will be inconsistent at best. As NCLB has shown, it has thus far been impossible to improve the education of students using the measured results of standardized tests. Why, after ten years of proven failed reform, we would introduce a new teacher evaluation system based upon this failed reform is utterly incomprehensible to me. However, I suspect the foul play of politicians, money, and lobbyists.

So why do I want to enter this upturned profession? I’m young, talented, bright; I have the resources and opportunities to take my life in any direction; why teaching?

Despite all the political upheaval, the tarnished perception of the profession, and the devaluing of public education, I believe education is worth it. I’m giving it the amount of love which it naturally demands, because I simply cannot help myself. I love education and learning. I believe it can be easily separated from all the bullshit (pardon me). Ordo amoris, baby.

I’ve worked hard and paid thousands of dollars for my education. I do not expect to make a load of money – ever. Money isn’t the end goal; deriving satisfaction from my work and seeing my talents bring forth the gifts and talents of others to help them reach their goals – now that sounds like something worth working toward. However, I will demand to be compensated for my work, because I work hard and I am worth it. No employer will be able to tell me otherwise and have me believe it; I am tired of people working for peanuts while jumping through burning rings of fire (without health insurance) while the slightly-better-paid ringmaster cracks the whip and the guy who owns the circus is on a yacht 5,000 miles away in an ocean he bought from a country he also decided to buy on an afterthought.

Do not tell me I am replaceable and expect that to change my value or self-worth. I know this is wrong.

I want to be a teacher because I am a leader. I speak well. I meet my goals. I know that to have others work for you, you work twice as hard. There are no shortcuts, and if a shortcut is taken, someone, if not yourself, is cheated.

My students will learn this, and they will remind me each time I forget.

I want to be a teacher because I’m compassionate – I want to change the opportunities chance has meted out to kids and parents. I want to help every kid, even though I am told it is not possible. I want every kid to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I want every kid to become like the sun and recognize that no man is an island.

I want to be a teacher because I’m smart; I’m smart enough to know when to speak up and when to listen. I know that I will never cease to be a student and that growth is the turning point in any type of education. I know people and how they work, how to listen and react, how to think on my feet and turn tension into laughter. I can straddle the lines of controversial subjects; I can bring discussion to that no-man’s land, and I can bring us back safely; if I fail, I have the capacity to recognize error and mistake are greater teachers than I. I’m smart enough to know that I am not always right.

I want to be a teacher because I cannot work a job where my actions do not stand to potentially affect for the better the world in which I live. I want to be in a position to be as effective as possible – utilizing all my strengths, developing my weaknesses, and producing an output that diminishes by far the input. I want to change the perspective regarding the structures in which we believe we must live – the value of a free mind is sorely underestimated.

I want to be a teacher because I believe in changing what one is able with the gifts one is given.

I cannot let fear or the unsure future of a worthy profession change what I know in my heart to be the only direction in which I can with integrity take myself. I cannot betray a calling for want of courage.

We must stand up, push forward, and burn a bright light in the midst of dark rooms.

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2 Responses to “The Shadow of Doubt: Darkness Easily Dissolved by Dostoevsky, Donne, and the Outspoken Apology of a Pre-Service Teacher”

  1. LVan March 22, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    Being a teacher is not a job – it’s who you are! I like to think that educators embark upon their careers with much the same passion and dedication to the profession as you.
    Yes, all the above items are at issue… which means the current situation is ripe for change — not something for the faint-hearted! There is so much information about what doesn’t work; now what’s needed is leadership from those who can evaluate and innovate. Those such as you.
    Go forth and do good!

  2. Bravo! I applaud your spirit and passion. May you be assisted to realize your high ideals and may the world and your students be illuminated with the bring light you bring to them.

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