22 June 2009

"All the scholarships in the world can't make up for the lack of it."

Two posts in as many days? I must be out of school.

The title for the post comes from a scene in Anne of Green Gables when Anne (at the stout age of sixteen) tells Aunt Josephine that she's become too practical for romance. The rather more wise Aunt Jo tells Anne to "save a little room in her life" for romance again.

I say this because of a few experiences I've had recently that have been grading on my nerves. I've just finished my undergrad at the Y and am in the process of getting ready to teach in the fall. It's a stressful and exciting process but I'm looking forward to putting my training into practice and seeing what comes of it.

When I tell people this my general reaction is fairly positive, but every so often I'll come across well meaning people who say pleasant things like "Oh, everyone starts out so idealistic!" and "soon you'll just be saying 'Everyone be quiet!' all the time," or (my favorite), "You'll lose all of those dreams, but you'll do great."

How is that for encouragement? Now, I have grown up around educators. Nearly every (competent) teacher I ever had (starting in about the third grade) has taken the time to tell either me or my mother that I would be a good teacher. When I was four I sat down all of my friends at my own birthday party to read them a story. I've done theater for a long time and I'm used to being in front of an audience. I know how to take criticism in that kind of an environment, and I'm used to adapting my performance. I don't expect to be perfect in my first or fortieth year of teaching, but I certainly don't expect to fall on my backside like all of these well meaning people want to imply. And how sad would it be for me to walk into my classroom on the first day of school next year with absolutely no ambition or drive or excitement at all? I am standing at the beginning of a new adventure, and even though I know I'll make mistakes, I also fully intend to see this through and I don't intend to hate it all the time.

These little incidents of pessimism to me reflect a great deal on the way modern society tries to prepare people for "reality" - a "reality" that is completely separate from hopes and dreams and any other kind of idealism. Reality is dirty and gritty and hard, so suck it up and deal with it, pal, because that's life.

It makes me admire my parents and other family members all the more for maintaining optimism and laughter in spite of struggles. Because why shouldn't we look on the bright side of life? I'm getting tired of these proverbial pats on the back that tell me when I'm older and wiser I'll understand and aren't I cute for still dreaming? I'm tired of those knowing smiles from adults who find my ideas endearing and my goals for life impractical. I'd be as good as dead if I had nothing left to dream about. I'd sure as heck never get married or have kids if all I relied on were statistics and horrible news articles about the recent split of the John and Kate Plus 8 clan - and I'd never be a teacher in the first place if I gave any mind to costs of living compared with average salary.

I guess the haphazard point I'm trying to reach is thank heaven for the gospel. If it weren't for the reassurance of the Lord, there's no way I'd even believe in romance any more. If it weren't for the understanding of the Holy Ghost, I'd be terrified of learning how to be a teacher come August and September. And for all my ignorance and dreaming and cute little fancies, I do know that when I'm caught and don't know what to do, then I have a partner who knows more about my students (and my future spouse) than I do - and that I won't be left without help. So to all of those people who keep trying to drag me down, quit raining on my parade and keep your hands off my head, thank you very much.

1 comment:

Bill said...

Amen, amen, and amen! It's amazing how all-too-often these well-meaning people will temper down any compliments or encouragement they give, in order to spare you hurt down the road. "That's a wonderful idea, BUT don't get your hopes up." "I love your ambition, but realize that down the road..." It's almost like, in order to prevent you from stumbling somewhere down the road, they'll shove you to the ground and suggest that you crawl. True, you'll never fall in that position, but dash it all, I want to fly!

It's true; the best teachers ARE those who are willing to try something new and engaging. The reason those people who are more "experienced" may imply that you'll end up with your face in the mud is likely because it happened to them. But they are forgetting one key fact: You are not them. You're you. You may very well have some piece of experience that they were lacking their attempts.

Those kids have no idea yet how lucky they are to have you. :-)