from a public HS teacher (Gov't, Religion, Soc. Issues), who is eclectic (Dem-leaning) politically and Quaker (& open) on everything else. Hope you enjoy what you find here.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Actually, I'm Quite Fortunate! 

I was thinking about how lucky I am on my way home today. I arrived at this conclusion via a circuitous path. I remembered that when I returned to working for Arlington County Government after working for a "Beltway Bandit" for six months, I was at a professional organization meeting where I was offered a job basically on the spot by Apple Computer's new Washington DC office manager. I had accepted the return to Arlington, but had not yet actually started. Legally I was not bound, the Apple job would have paid one heck of a lot more, I was actually interested. But I felt that morally I could not take that job. In retrospect, it would have been a false path for me.

Likewise, while back at Arlington I interviewed for a job with Albemarle County. They had posted the job because they were legally required to do so, but it was intended to be an internal promotion. That was clear when I interviewed, because they were trying like hell to find a reason they didn't have to offer me the job - I was far more qualified for it than their internal candidate. I sensed it when one of the questions I was asked was clearly outside the bounds of what could be asked, because it was not part of the posted qualifications for the job. I had a moment where I thought I could justifiably raise that point - had I done so, they would have had to give me the job. But all things considered, it would also have been a false path for me.

In fact, as I look back at many of the "what ifs" in my life, while the course of my life might have led to far more fame, or power, and definitely been far more remunerative, I have been fortunate in that I have found my true calling, the teaching of adolescents.

As I now begin to feel what it means to be in my late 50's, I realize that I also cannot complain. I remember reading in Chesteron's book on Francis of Assisi how the saint had been less than generous towards his body, calling it "Brother Ass" and not taking care of it, and as he aged he realized how dependent he was on that good "ass." Likewise I was blessed with both energy and stamina for much of my life. As I age I have far less of both, and I am finding the necessity of adjusting how I live. And yet, the blessings I have already enjoyed have enabled me to experience far more in life than I had any right to expect.

Iam certainly not satisfied with all I have done in my life. There are many missteps, and there are still current slips and falls. And yet... dspite what I might regret, each day presents me with new opportunities to feel as if my existence makes a difference. Perhaps that is what is so satisfying about being a teacher, even with the frustrations concomitant with that profession. I have so many opportunities to help an adolescent believe in herself. I may see a student suddenly understand that he CAN grasp the concept behind that Supreme Court decision, and likewise know that he can point out the weakness of the argument made to reach the decision,even though he is an ordinary 9th grader. That moment is empowering, and can last a lifetime. And by being his teacher I have in some small way participated in his self-discovery, which therefore gives my life meaning and purpose.

I'm tired. It is a very icy night, and my wife, who is not used to driving under such conditions, is desperately trying to drive herself home right now. I pray that she stays calm, and gets home safely. My mock trial team lost its first match by one point (although the judge was unnecessarily generous to us - it really should not have been that close). I have a stack of papers to correct that I know I will not get to tonight - I cannot think clearly enough to do them justice. That makes part of me want a 2 hours delay in the morning to give me time to go through them, while on the other hand I really don't like having my instructional time cut down by 1/3.

This blog does not provide appropriate tools for those of us on MACs. The spell check, the easy formatting - this is only available in an Wintel environment. Boo!! Maybe that will encourage me to look for a different host for these poor literary efforts on my part.

And so ends another day.

FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME OFFLINE at kber@earthlink.net Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed! Preface any messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.
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