Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Things No One Tells You

For some teachers "education" is like a mistress. Adulterous to all the other facets of life they run after it. They ruin their marriages literally and figuratively.

It's like an addiction. These teachers get burned and ask for more.

For me, at the stage I am at now, education is more like a bad boyfriend. It's like a boyfriend who threatens to break up with me all the time and sometimes tells me that I am not good enough for him despite my complete devotion and loyal service. Yet I persist in my devotion, maybe even my obsession, because on some level I love him. I love education and I love this job. I want to believe that in some way he loves me back, that he needs me, or that he is good for me.

People warned me not to enter into my volatile relationship with education. "You're young, and there's a lot of other things you could do," they told me. I wouldn't listen; I dived head first into this disastrous relationship with my whole heart.

I think my relationship with "education" is as bad as ever. With the threat of a rif hanging over my head, with being told I may not know if I have a job until August, with the threat of more pay cuts, and more difficult assignments things don't look any better. Yet, in another way, I love "education" more than I did three years ago. Even after all that I've been through in this field, I hope that I get to keep teaching not because I want a paycheck but because I want to teach.

At some point, though, I have to ask the question: Is my love for "education" enough to stay in a field that treats me like this forever?

These are the things about being a teacher that you can't see until you see them for yourself. The life of a teacher in public education is hard. No one tells you that your heart and head will get all mixed up and you'll love it and hate it at the same time. No one tells you that you'll think about quitting. No one tells you that you'll take the fall for politics and poverty and cultural denigration. No one tells you that it's not just hard work, but it actually hurts when you give it your all and politics just slaps you in the face. No one tells you that sometimes one kid will change and you'll think it's all been worth it. No one tells you that the next day the budget will change and you'll be worried about how to pay your bills at all. No one tells you why something can seem so important and be treated like it doesn't matter at all. It is just one bad boyfriend.

I wish that I didn't love it at all.


Anonymous said...

"I wish that I didn't love it at all."

This post (especially the last line) has to be the best summary I've seen of the current situation among high-achieving, hard-working, young teachers. Simply brilliant.

mrsgee said...

this is the most eloquent, most real definition of teaching i have ever heard. i see this all the time among my colleagues and i feel it all the time in my own life. thank you for putting into words the things that so many of us are feeling.