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Friday, August 13, 2010
Teaching with Dignity
I woke up this morning to find this post at Momastery in my google reader. The author's father wrote a letter to her one Christmas where he touched on her belonging in the teaching profession. He wrote,
It is good to see you settled on teaching as a career. It is even better to see you excited and enthusiastic about it. It is better yet to see you defend its importance. If you continue your pursuit of this career, and I believe you will, you will find yourself involved in some mind boggling contradictions. People who tell you that the most important person in their lives was a teacher will also ask you why you do it for a living. People who work with no goal in mind but to accumulate money will pity you for wasting your talent in teaching. People who tell you that your efforts are crucial to the future of the country will resent you for making a decent living at it. It is uniquely American to be uncomfortable with teachers. Especially those who teach the very young. Whether because of their subconscious or some other involuntary reaction, all of them will ultimately respect you for what you do. But their reactions can serve to diminish your beliefs and sense of self. So Never, But Never, allow yourself to become defensive about being a teacher. Take’em on whenever and wherever. When you confirm your choice to teach by defending that choice, you are affirming yourself, your dignity, your pride, those you most admire, and even your ancestors.
I love that. I love his acknowledgement of the American contradiction alongside his firm stance not to become defensive. I teeter on the edge of defending the profession yet becoming defensive about being a teacher. The times when I want to beat people over the head when they act like I have the cutest profession ever, or they think they understand schools become they went to one themselves 20 years ago, I'm trying not to scream that I could have gone to law school. I grind my teeth at parties when I run into people who hear what I do and quickly turn away to find someone else more connected to mingle with.
I love this letter and Glennon's father's words. I'm so thankful she shared this because his message will now be able to touch all of us, reminding all of us to teach with dignity and pride.