How are you changing the world? That is the question that comes with today’s Bloganuary prompt. There have been a few questions that I have shied away from this month but as a teacher, I suppose there is an argument to say that I am changing the world by educating young people and teaching them how to understand the world and themselves through literature. It would be satisfying to think this is the case.
In fact, the reality of teaching is far from the idealised image that we sometimes see. I have been bitterly disappointed by the distinct lack of ‘Oh Captain My Captain’ standing on table moments. I would like to think that this doesn’t mean I haven’t made some small impact on a kid or two. Also, teaching is far from the lazy, whinging characterisation we often see in the press where teachers are always moaning despite only working until 3pm whilst getting 13 weeks holiday a year. There are many days (weeks, months?) where you do not feel like you are changing the world. In fact, you don’t know if you are having any impact at all despite the slog. Or at least, that is how I feel a lot of the time. I teach a subject that is more about honing skills than it is about collecting facts and as such, the learning can seem ephemeral or evanescent; certainly, it doesn’t feel like a concrete thing that can be easily measured.
Importantly though, I don’t think that you need to be doing a job like teaching to be changing the world. We can each make our mark on this world in big or small ways: through our interactions with others; by being a good boss or a good friend; by raising children to be decent humans; by caring for our environment; by making something which will last.
This is all very heartening as I wonder if teaching is the only place for me. For a long time, I worried that my worth as a person was attached to my vocation. That I must continue to teach to be worthwhile. I still care a lot about large parts of my job but it is also demanding in a way that can be difficult to reconcile. By continuing to pursue my writing and other related ventures, I can perhaps find my worth in other places too.