I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who stops by. When I started this blog, I figured, “What’s the worst that can possibly happen? I’ll write something, and nobody will read it.” I’ll probably have five loyal readers–four of them will be related to me.
It didn’t turn out that way–no matter what I do, I my brother won’t read my blog. He keeps meaning to, but I suspect the fact that he’s busy counting all his children to make sure they don’t escape might have something to do with it, so even though he was technically an English major and should be here trying to find dangling participles and vague antecedents, he’s nowhere to be found. Which is why it’s safe enough to make fun of him in the lead paragraphs.
My sister reads this blog sometimes but she’s more important than me, so if she can’t get to it every day, that’s okay. She writes an awesome national brief–it’s not really funny, but I’ll overlook that point, because it’s tough to laugh when you have to write about countries that are blowing each other up. Her entire life goal was to spark world peace, not to have to write another column each time someone throws Molotov cocktail across a border. I hope world peace comes soon–not only do I think it’s important, but I think then my sister could use the day off.
Funny–I remember the days that my brother and sister became cooler than me. My brother, let’s call him “Dan,” because that’s his name, played soccer and wrestled. He tried very hard. He played video games with his friend “Kevin” (any resemblance to actual individuals is entirely intended), and we–the older sisters–felt “Oh my god, these kids are doomed.” Not that I was an expert in cool–I was the anthesis of the “in crowd.” But still, I was concerned.
Turns out Dan and Kevin did alright–Kevin has a family and a Ph.D in something I’m not qualified to understand. Dan got his name put on “The List” traveling around Ireland meeting students and buying books about Bobby Sands. Apparently they write down your name if you read about such people. He’s a peace-loving person, in case anyone’s still watching. A harmless Yankee fan who just loves Irish history. Now, he gets to work with some of the best and brightest language-development minds in the world. He is much cooler than me.
My sister–we’ll call her “Mary,” became cool much quicker. She did sound production and got to blow off rappers who were late for studio sessions, which would have been even more impressive if she knew who they were, and she got to do political spots during several election seasons. I love politics. Meeting those people would have been cool.
Then, she decided that cool wasn’t cool enough, and she went back to school to save the world–a degree in “Peace and Conflict Resolution.” If I invented that degree, I’d have put a question mark after it, “Peace and Conflict Resolution?” because no one really wants to stop fighting as long as there’s money flowing on both sides, but Mary is doing her best to promote key solutions, and far more people read what she writes on a daily basis than will ever read my stuff. She is definitely much cooler than me.
Alas, I am not cool–I just got put in my place again last night, “I don’t understand why you guys (referring to me and to a couple other college friends) went to the University of Rochester to become teachers. Seems like such a waste. If you wanted to become a teacher, why didn’t you just go to a cheap college instead of such a good one? Spending all that money to become a teacher is just stupid.” Sadly, it was an honest question, not an intentional insult. I get those types of questions and comments a lot.
This happens more and more frequently of late. When I switched careers thinking I’d save the world, my friends frowned just like they had when I considered law enforcement as a career. “Really? You’re overqualified.” To improve lives? To save the world? If I succeed in saving the world, that would make me, like, God, and am I truly overqualified to be the Almighty? I think not…but apparently the world does not agree.
I figured people would high-five me as I went into teaching. Not so. College friends have put up with my decision, and in some cases openly mocked me, as if I were throwing my life away to join a monastery. “Casey, really?” Or when I tell new people what I do, “I teach,” they immediately say one of two things, “Oh,” and they walk away to find someone more interesting, or “Good luck with that, I’d never do it.” If I’m lucky, they’ll tell a bonus unsolicited story about how teachers are lazy, ruining the world, or how “nothing personal but” they all suck.
It’s getting tough to remain positive in a career that everyone despises–one that throws new regs on daily as if the art of saving kids weren’t enough. As if it can be micromanaged down to the last bits and bytes of data. Not only am uncool, but I spend more time chasing numbers lately than I do teaching my kids. I feel much more like an accountant than the saver of the universe I set out to be.
James Altucher came through with some inspiration the other day, “Complaining is the opposite of improving,” and when James is busy writing about other things, I can always turn to Tom Petty, who “won’t back down.” Just in the nick of time someone recommended Margaret Wheatley’s new book to me, which I’m only partially through but makes perfect sense. She urges us to avoid burnout by knowing that the world is flawed and flawed systems make it impossible to save the world. Recognizing that helps us to avoid fighting the windmills and still realize that we are doing the good work. Work that must be done. She must have seen the Picasso of Don Quixote I keep close by.
I’m grateful to everyone who has taken the time to read this blog–the blog I never expected to exist. I’m grateful that I have seen your blogs and discovered inspirational people, teachers, visionaries, writers, scientists, Zen thinkers–people who bring joy and inspiration to my life. Although I may not be as cool as my siblings, because I’m “just a teacher,” you all give me hope that someday we might change that, and being a teacher will be something people aspire to be once more. In gratitude for your trust, I will do my best to make this career a better place to be while simultaneously inspiring and informing my own students to carry the torch further.
Even if I will never be quite as cool as Mary and Dan.