I don't know about everyone else, but this was a really tough week for me. I think it's the January doldrums getting the best of my energy, and it has been a difficult transition back to school routines for many students. In times like these, I find it helpful to remember why I teach. So here's a brief explanation.
I became a teacher because I believe in the power of education. Idealistic and naïve as I may be, I believe that when people are educated (I mean, really educated) they lead more fulfilling lives. They can make their own choices and direct their own paths. They can think independently. They can change the world.
I also believe so many of the global problems we face are a result of a lack of understanding and an unwillingness to pursue an understanding. An inability to sympathize, a lack of reasoning, a lack of considering the options. I believe that truly educated people seek an understanding of the world around them. They have a sense of wonder.
I see this in every discipline from the Nobel Prize winning scientist who discovers a new subatomic particle to the author who finds a way to express a deeply felt human experience to a new audience to the construction worker who thinks of a new way to design a building to the mechanic who asks a stranger where they're from.
I believe people who ask questions, who pursue something they are genuinely interested in, no matter what that interest is, lead more fulfilling lives. And, perhaps just as importantly, they seek to understand those around them. They empathize. They have deep relationships because they seek to understand their own lives and others.
I want to be a teacher because I believe that students can be taught to come to a deeper understanding of self if given a safe place to explore and express. After exploring and expressing themselves, they can be ready to listen to others.