How did I get here? Why do I teach? (Part II)
Now to answer the second question is both easier and more difficult. Why do I teach? It's a question that I'm asked in some way or another any time I go on a date or have dinner with friends or meet anyone new for that matter. So, suffice it to say I've honed my answer pretty well at this point.
Today I told my colleagues that it is about equal rights, civil rights and social justice. I look at this country and I see a great deal of inequality. And it grows every day. In the past 50 years we've watched as millionaires became billionaires, and billionaires trillionaires. Inequality has a definitive starting point. And the fight for equality starts from that same place: the classroom.
The students of my classroom and classrooms like it across the country are practically invisible. They are being left behind not just by their government but by the citizens who are supposed to give a damn. I teach, because I can't stand to see a society discard millions of its citizens and I hope that perhaps by teaching I'm stopping that process. Or at the very least helping the next generation stop it.
To also echo some of the words of my co-workers I teach to empower the next generation. I teach so that they can learn the very simple but powerful ability to question. I teach so that one day they can speak up - speak up for themselves, speak up for what's right and speak out against wrongdoing. I teach, because it is a genuine chance to "make a difference".
"All around the world," one colleague said, "people do so much bad. And people do nothing. But as a teacher you are doing something and you are doing good."
I don't know if I'm a good person (last week I spent a day reminding myself how far I am from ideal). But I do know that the work I do each day is good. Even considering the immense failures of my first year of teaching and the occasional mistakes of this year, I know that teaching is undeniably good. So in many ways I teach for selfish means of self-validation. But less cynically perhaps, I teach to help the "greater good".
A year ago I was probably too bewildered to answer how I got to my school or why I was there. Maybe my answers would have been the same. But I doubt I would have understood and felt these ideas as deeply as I do today. Maybe my answers are inconsequential. Regardless, I am here, and I teach, and as long as I'm doing my best at that, perhaps the why doesn't matter.