Since I was about 8, I knew the answer to want I was going to be when I grow up. That was easy. I was going to be a teacher.
I wasn’t going to be a teacher because I loved school. No. I did not love school. In fact, I suffered through much of the social and ritualistic parts of primary school, never quite knowing how everyone else knew how to fit in automatically, without trying (or so it seemed). At some point, I simply gave up trying to conform and got used to happy solitude.
So no, I didn’t want to be a teacher because I loved school. I wanted to be a teacher because so many of my own teachers didn’t like their jobs. They all seemed exasperated to find children in their classroom, messing up their plans. They all seemed frustrated that we talked and thought like children instead of like mini-adults. None of them seem enthusiastic about learning and discovery.
I very clearly remember, maybe age 10, sitting in my grade 4/5/6 classroom and thinking ‘I wouldn’t do it like that…’
Of course this seems very arrogant that a grade 5 would be sitting there critiquing their fully trained and qualified teacher’s technique. But people ask me when I decided to become a teacher. It was then.
That’s not still the reason I want to be a teacher of course. There are a lot of reasons, and the three years of my degree so far have only given me more. But at the heart of it: I have seen too many teachers, in my own schooling and on placements since, who just don’t care. They aren’t engaged, they aren’t passionate and they just don’t care.
Sidenote: this is not all teachers. I have also seen amazingly engaged and passionate teachers. I also grew up in a ‘regional centre,’ not a city, which may have contributed to the calibre of teachers.
So I am going to teach. I am going to be engaged and passionate and I am going to care. I am going to be excited about learning new things and new discoveries because then my students are more likely to be excited as well.
But when I stop liking my job, when I start disengaging, if I ever dread getting up for work, I will stop. I owe it to myself and I owe it to my students. I will not because like my teachers from primary school, aged sixty and still teaching because it was the only thing they ever learnt to do.
Of course I want to do it for at least a few years because I’ve put a fair amount of work into studying for it, but hopefully I will enjoy it longer than that. Even if I never get sick of teaching though, I don’t think it will be want I do forever. I don’t think I am the type of person to have one career, one workplace, one profession.
I don’t think this degree will be my last. I don’t know what’s next. Maybe studying a Masters in Education or Counselling will be next. Maybe learning more about the brain and how it changes and shapes as we learn and grow is next. Maybe theological studies, going to Bible College will happen at some point. I really don’t know.
But if I was to describe my ideal job, this would be it:
I want to take the best educational theories, all the research that has been done on how we learn and retain information, everything we know about the brain and how it works, and I want to use all that information to help people who have message to convey to the world. It might be charities, businesses, volunteer groups: but especially, I want to help churches.
I see churches trying to teach people the Gospel and it’s like watching them try to re-invent the wheel. We know how people learn best. We know how to speak so they will listen, how to engage and make it relevant. Educational theory has done that. But the word ‘school’ is like poison.
Too many people have had learning experiences like mine – disengaged and uninterested teachers who treat learning like a chore. No wonder the word school sends people running. No wonder people roll their eyes when the word learning comes up. No wonder I hear again and again that we don’t want church (or kids church or youth group) to become like school, despite the fact that we are in fact trying to help people learn about God.
Studying isn’t an intellectual exercise for me – though I love knowledge, I love how it changes me most of all. I love how it changes how I see the world and how I think, and changes my attitudes and actions. I want to show people that learning, true, good, deep learning about God, is the best way to know him. Not just theological theories and biblical facts, but truly knowing him, his character and his heart.
I want to help churches teach that. My ideal job is helping people learn about God in the best way possible and to help church teach people about God in the best way possible.
I just don’t have the experience, knowledge or any idea how to yet.