If I could work from home, earning money from poker and this insanely popular blog, the world would be a better place. My students are lucky to have me, but the people who care about me would be luckier to have my time. My perception of the value of my work would rise if I could help the people I wanted to help when I knew they needed it.
Imagine a classroom in which a teacher sits at a large table. Students would come in only if they could not accomplish a preassigned task. Teachers would help but never spoon feed. All students would have to be literate for this to work, but if they were, teachers would love their jobs. I know I would.
What happens instead is this: mobs of unmotivated students sit down in high school classrooms across the country and try to sleep away their hour-long opportunity without interruption. Usually a kind, highly qualified teacher attempts to inspire and lead by example. In this country those teachers usually fail when their students do not see the point in not failing.
Now understand that these mostly failing teachers have husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends and children who care enough about themselves to fight the hurdles of life: depression, anxiety, boredom, loneliness, illness, addiction and personal loss. If you have a pulse, you love someone who struggles with one of these demons. Imagine what the world would be like if caring for these people was every man's primary occupation.
"What do you do?" a stranger might ask you at a party.
"I stay with my friend who just came out of surgery," you might say. "By the way things are going, we will both be ready for something new in two weeks. I might volunteer at the hospital until something pops up."
Is this societal fantasy socialism? Or is it plain European? You might say the impact of teachers is enormous and necessary no matter what I write in this wee hour. But the impact my teaching has on me is minimal. Teachers more often talk about feeling frustrated than rewarded. Who wrote that damn chicken soup book? Was it a teacher? I suspect it was a student.
I care about a lot of people because I am lucky. A lot of people care about me because they are lucky. If we had time for each other, living would be so full of life.