Tag Archives: students

Why I Can’t Wait to be a Teacher

John and I recently found out we were accepted into the education program we’d applied to. I wasn’t exactly surprised that we were accepted (since we both have a great deal of experience working with kids), but I was surprised at just how ecstatic the news made me. Maybe I’m feeling motivated by my student loans, since they’ve just been there, looming. Maybe I’m just excited to move beyond the academic world of writing essays for affirmation. Then again, maybe I’m just excited to start a job that I love doing.

As I head towards my new career I feel a little torn by the stigma the profession carries. Here in Canada, many people accuse teachers of being overpaid for a job they don’t consider very difficult. Then there are the teachers who have worked for years only to be burned up and spit out by the system they dedicated their lives to. Some of them have asked me if this is really the route I think is best. There’s also the general sentiment that “those who can’t do, teach,” so despite my own excitement over my career path, I often feel the need to defend my choice or explain that “I might explore other options later.” Not to mention that, as a woman, it feels like I’m giving in to that traditional cliche of finding the kind of job that people can classify as “women’s work”.

Yet in spite of all the ideas about teaching that I’ve internalized, or at least had thrown my way, I keep feeling drawn back towards the profession. Finally, I’ve allowed myself to recognize what an amazing and rewarding career path it is. Don’t believe me? Well, let me explain.

You get to be creative

Last summer I got a job running a kids’ program at the local library. My role consisted of reading books to kids, encouraging them to read at home, and doing a few crafts with them. Basically I was babysitting them for an hour so that their parents could have a break.

While I knew I would enjoy entertaining the kids and reading children’s books (who doesn’t love reading children’s books?), I had no idea I would become obsessed with crafting and building forts. After a year of focusing my attention on a computer screen, I was suddenly able to make stuff by hand. It was bizarrely exhilarating.

forts

A few things I made out of old fridge boxes for the kids to play in. The Minecraft creeper is a little worse for wear, but that’s because the kids were throwing beanbags into his eyes and mouth. The fishing poles that the kids would drop into the fishing pond also became thoroughly destroyed.

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3 Reasons Why the Paris Attack Feels like 9/11 and 1 Reason Why It Demands A Different Response

Since the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, I encountered several articles that criticize the way the Western world responded to the tragic loss of life in Paris. While each of these articles bemoans the loss of 132 innocent lives, they also highlight similar atrocities that happened before the Paris attack and were almost completely overlooked.

In a lot of ways this event, and its media response, reminded me of the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001. While the media response to this tragedy has been a little more self-aware, our international reaction has been similar to how it was last time this kind of tragedy affected a Western nation. Rather than discuss the way we responded to these attacks, I wanted to examine why we reacted the way we did.

1) It felt close to home

I remember waking up the morning of 9/11, walking into the living room to see my mom crying. My dad turned to me and told me the world had changed overnight. Hearing about the attacks on Paris gave me the same shiver of fear that I felt that day. I don’t think it’s hard to dissect what motivates that feeling. These particular attacks were frightening because they happened to Western nations, and we in the West are very accustomed to feeling in control. We took control over much of the world during an age of imperialism, colonization, and slavery. Today we continue to control much of the world through unfair aid practices and political manipulation. These kind of attacks are terrifying because they make us feel like we don’t have as much control as we think we do.

Even though last Thursday 45 innocent victims lost their lives to a terrorist attack in Beirut and, 6 months ago a similar attack in Kenya killed 147 innocent people, many of us heard little to nothing about those attacks until their news coverage was compared to what occurred in Paris. In our effort to show solidarity with Paris, the Western world made it apparent that certain tragedies frighten us more than others.

As Elie Fares explained in his blog comparing the media response to the Paris and Beirut attack,

“When my people died, they did not send the world in mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in those parts of the world.”

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Shame Day: The BC Government vs. BC Teachers

In full disclosure, for the last few weeks my husband John and I have been working as uncertified Teachers on Call and/or Teacher’s Aides on Call. In my couple weeks attempting to fill the shoes of regular teachers and TAs, I’ve realized that this is an incredibly difficult job. Even though I’ve really loved my experience so far, it’s hard not to notice the ways that teachers are strapped when it comes to providing a good educational experience for the kids.

It’s become particularly frustrating over the last few weeks as the BC Teacher’s Union and the Government of British Columbia have gone head-to-head in a battle over several key issues. This has resulted in strikes by the Teacher’s Union and a lock-out by the province (preventing teachers from assisting at lunch, recess, and at extra curricular activities after school). Most teachers I’ve encountered feel frustrated at having to strike, but they are even more frustrated at being locked-out from helping their students.

Locked out at lunch.

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The Very Real Threat of Islamophobia

Today, I’d like to do something I’ve been wanting to for a while. We’re going to go through a list of recent quotes on Arabs and Islam and replace them with the words “Jew,” “Jews,” and “Jewish.”

Most quickly springing to mind is the latest line of tripe from Anne Coulter. While you are (unfortunately) probably already familiar with some of Coulter’s statements (see: “It would be a much better country if women did not vote. That is simply a fact.” or “[Canada] better hope the United States doesn’t roll over one night and crush them. They are lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent.”), you may not have heard Coulter’s recent assertion that the wife of one of the Boston Bombers should ““Be jailed for wearing a hijab” (right after saying “I don’t care if she knew about this [bombing]”- just so you know it’s about religion, not justice).

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A Letter to Anyone Entering the Job Market in 2012

Cynicism about the economy, the job market, and basically anything in “the world today” is inappropriately and lazily fashionable right now, I think. Not that I’m foolish enough to say that the aforementioned institutions have nothing going wrong with them; it’s just that the default conversation seems to too often involve predictions of our gloomy, futureless futures, especially for my demographic – that is, middle class college students in the US.

Those of us who are reading this on the internet, who have enough food to eat, who have clean water to drink and somewhere warm to sleep, and who are able to rely on at least temporary financial assistance from our relatives if we really needed it – we are some of the most privileged people in the world right now, economically and situationally.

To be clear, I don’t think we’re guaranteed happiness. Life is hard. And sad. But I do think that we have been given ample resources to construct a stable and joyful existence, however, and I think that it might be healthy to occasionally reflect upon that fact with a simple and unaffected sense of baffled gratitude.

Students now are groomed not only to succeed academically but to operate professionally. We’ve been taught textbooks worth of information and, more importantly, a work ethic—the emotional benefits of which you can discount if you like but which does, it cannot be denied, set one up rather nicely for social and economic success (in the West at least). Some of us read nonfiction and enjoy it sometimes. Most of us will never be homeless. Almost all of us have some sort of skill that we cultivate for no career-oriented reason. We have learned that sometimes we are wrong, that sometimes our opinions matter and (possibly most importantly) that sometimes they don’t.

And yeah, going from college into the Real World is going to be a rather shocking change for many of us. But I think most of us will thrive on the opportunity to do work for money, after floundering in abstract work while paying lots of money to do so (yes, in the long term this makes sense, but when you are writing a paper at 3 in the morning and think to yourself that this is costing you your life’s savings, the logic of the situation is hard to articulate).

When the terror of post-graduation becomes paralyzing, I think it might be helpful to remember that we are all rather intelligent, capable, ingenuous people. We might get a job the summer after we graduate that has nothing to do with our major, but we will know to be thankful for a job, and we will be able to do it to the best of our overqualified abilities. And we might not be able to achieve whatever two-dimensional ideal of living we hold in our heads (I’m an English major, so for most of my friend group this involves “a cabin in the woods somewhere” and lots of books and wine and maybe facial hair), but I think we have the resources to find joy and a sense of potency in whatever work is at hand, whether it be academic work or scraping by for a few years at a job for which we are wholly overqualified. So I have hope that my generation can survive if given the chance.