Thursday, August 26, 2010

The why in "why I still bother"

Having the summer off and enjoying not working makes a slippery slope down the path of "is it worth it" and "why even bother". Yesterday I started to dig deep, but realized my reason for bothering has been right at the surface all along. 

As you know, I began the hoop jumping to start subbing for a chain of charters in the inner city, c/o Big City, USA. I filled out a crazy detailed online application, showed up for an interview, wrote some essay questions on the spot, got grilled about best practices and my views of guest teaching, and got selected to join the limited guest teacher (re: sub) pool for the 8 locations k-12 in the inner city neighborhood that this particular charter serves. I paid a total of $42 to have two different official transcripts ordered and tomorrow I'll pay another $25 for a fingerprint & background check. Next week I'll attend a mandatory orientation. I don't want to talk about gas or minutes spent in traffic but at least no one can hear my singing in the car.

Why the hoops? Is it because, as it seems on the surface, that I'm so desperate for a job that I'll take anything that comes my way? Is it because I'm so pathetic I can't do any better or get hired in a "good" district?

Let me tell you why. And this is the real answer--not the interview answer, not the essay question answer, not the friendly polite dinner conversation answer. I'm not trying to be cute or coy or even, for once, awesome. It's just the truth.

It's because I think the only way to change the world is to teach our children to ask questions. 

I believe that so strongly I'm willing to put it on my sleeve or nail it to my door with a sword. So when I drove to my interview yesterday and saw graffiti on every flat surface and poverty and hunger, and saw babies with babies and teenagers with gang tattoos, I didn't think "how sad." I didn't think "welfare kids" or "I can save them!" or "they need help" or "am I safe here?". I didn't even really think about difference or privilege or agency or equity or any other hot topic that often keeps me awake at night.

I did think "I wonder if anyone is teaching these kids to ask "why" or "how".

So yes, I will jump the hoops and fight upstream with the thousands of other teachers who believe we can change the world. And if that means subbing or working part time or driving in traffic or paying for another stupid transcript or background check (I'm still not a crook!) then I will. Maybe I never will have my own classroom. Maybe I will get hired next week. Maybe I'll stop working when I have kids. I don't know right now. But right now, I sure as hell am going to keep bothering with the hoops, because kids need to be taught to ask the questions that grown ups are too afraid of.


  1. I have nothing deep and insightful to say about this post. I JUST LOVE IT.