Monday, April 19, 2010

Why I am not a teacher

I went to grad school for secondary social studies education.  I dipped my toe in the teaching ocean for about half a second and then ran for my life.  Everyone always asks me "why don't you just teach?"  They always reminded me of the short days, the summers off and the holidays.  I do not want to teach!  Teaching is bad.... I mean really bad!  Maybe some people out there like it, more power to them, but it is not for me.  Let me explain to you all my experience "teaching" the youth of this country.

First I think I should explain my motivation.  I want to say that I did not initially go to school to teach.  I earned my B.A. in History, concentrating in classical and ancient history.  When I finished my undergrad degree I knew I wanted to continue my education but I was not sure what I wanted to do.  I debated going all the way with history and eventually becoming a professor, but that would be a lot of time and money committed to a career that I was not positive I wanted.  I thought teaching might allow me to experiment with grad school and writing subject curriculum, public speaking and so on....  All things I figured would help me in the future if I did eventually decide to become a professor.

I love history.  I love talking about history.  I love learning about how cultures evolve and interact over space and time and discussing new ideas and theories about how past events played out and how they effect us today.   I got into teaching because I like standing in front of a group of people and running my mouth about what I love.  I did not get into teaching because I like kids (doesn't mean I don't like them, it just wasn't my reason).

I will try to keep this as short as I can.  My love of history ruined my ability to teach high school.  Social Studies in New York State (and I would imagine in the rest of the states) is a joke.  Like other subjects the curriculum is based exclusively off of the Regents exam.  So as a teacher it is your job to teach the students the skills to preform well on the Regents exam (this will lead to potential funding for the school district).  The Regents exam consists mainly of multiple choice questions and a short essay on a ridiculous topic.  The "facts" that are learned are extremely "american bias"  they show very little if any perspective of any other cultures.  There is very little history taught of any other region of the world.  By far the most frustrating aspect of American High School Social Studies is the complete and utter exclusion of geography!  I once asked a student to point to Japan on a world map.  They responded "that is the capitol of China, right?" and then pointed to Europe.

I could no longer participate in the Americanized version of reality that schools cram into students.  American perspective certainly has its place, but, you can not reflect without a mirror.  We need to teach our students that other, foreign, different perspectives are not bad, but help us learn more about ourselves and our place in this world.  I certainly could not compromise myself and these children.  It was a nightmare.

Instead of hoping to have an accident on the way to work everyday so I could go to the hospital instead of to the classroom, I decided to change my career path.  That is why I do not teach!

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