John-Paul of Man of Errors wrote a brilliant post today. You should go read it, but wait a minute. I’ll be quick.
JP writes beautifully, always, and it is a joy to read him. But today’s post struck a chord and brought back something I wanted to share with him and everybody else but had forgotten.
First, here is what JP says about how he is making a difference:
As it happens, over the last two years I have been trying to think what I could do to make my society a better place. I thought about donating food to a foodbank, and I started on the process of volunteering to help refugees, but then I stopped. I was dissatisfied with both of these responses. Just last week I realised that I don’t need to find something to do. I am already doing it. I am a teacher, and I have the potential to help 100 people a day. In some ways I can’t believe I was so stupid that I didn’t see what my opportunity was before, but in another way I am not surprised.
Unfortunately, over the last few years I have felt attacked by the government. I have felt that my opinion was not important, and that for some reason the government wanted to label teachers and schools as failures. They certainly didn’t want to talk to us. We have been sneered at and diminished. Teachers are not above criticism. We listen to it everyday. Our working environment is not one that encourages arrogance or complacency. You don’t get into teaching to develop a big head. You also don’t get into teaching to be a doormat to political agendas which have little proven worth to education, or to give up on things like your internationally admired curriculum. When we defend education we usually do it for the students and the community, and not out of self-interest. And yet we are sneered at and diminished. How does this benefit society?
JP and 99.9% of teachers make a huge difference in the lives of those they touch. And education matters enormously. It influences everything — how you approach the world, how you think, what you do when you grow up.
As someone who didn’t manage to finish college (yet), I know first-hand the value of education and the cost of its absence. I recognize it each payday. I’m not complaining. Not only do I have a paycheck, but I have been incredibly lucky and have a great job and the respect and friendship of an office full of high school grads as well as MDs and PhDs. I often get to boss them around which is nice, too.
And JP’s piece made me think of this monologue by Taylor Mali. A teacher. I thought that anybody who hadn’t seen it should. So here you go:
Now please go read JP’s post here. I really hope I can be in JP’s class when I go back to school.