Thoughts on Teaching

I like to think in spectrums. I try to create realistic dichotomies, explore them, and find where to reside within them. This isn't a very original philosophy. I think Aristotle and the Buddha both recommend this as the path to wisdom. 

One of the things on my Spring Break to-do list was to "talk to my awesome high school physics teacher". I did that on Monday, and on Tuesday I talked with my awesome high school english literature teacher.

In talking with them, I saw two very different approaches to their careers and lifestyles, which set up a spectrum for me to think about for the rest of the week. One was a university professor for a while and then decided to teach at the high school level. She puts a tremendous amount of effort into her classes, and is involved at the national level in writing the AP Literature exam. The other has been teaching physics for four decades, passed on opportunities for leadership, and glows with a special kind of happiness. 

I was in Central Park on Thursday and just paced back and forth trying to answer these questions to identify where I land on that spectrum: 

1. Why do I want to teach?

2. What do I want out of my teaching career? (How do I use my love for teaching for good?)

I think I figured out the first one. It makes me happy to teach anybody anything. Teaching the most useless fact to the person who has everything they could ever want would still make me happy. I crave knowledge for humanity. Some men just want to watch the world learn.

The second one, I'm struggling with. I think people who do great things are rarely happy because they're burdened by their desire for improvement. Rarely being the key word there. How do I do great things and be happy?

But, what are "great things"? How does reforming a school district weigh against having enough time for friends and family? That's where I'm stuck right now. 


For some comic relief, here's Simba and I playing tug-of-war with a hand towel.