When I Grow Up

September 16, 2010

There are so many jobs in the world; it’s odd how difficult it is to find one. Even more difficult is finding one that you’re good at, and even more difficult is finding one that you enjoy. The odds of finding your perfect job purely by chance are almost nil, so unless you have a pretty good idea of what you want to do with yourself you’re basically screwed, or so we’re told.

As a kid, I always wanted to be a veterinarian. I guess that’s a normal thing for a kid to want, since animals are awesome and as a kid being a vet probably seems like a job where you just play with puppies all day (my perfect job). Over the years, as childhood became teenagerhood, I gave up my animal-based aspirations and decided I had no idea what I wanted to do. Old people would tell me I should be an engineer, since I was good at math, or maybe a musician because I knew how to play three notes on a saxophone. Right.

To my surprise, in my senior year of high school I developed an interest in physics. It wasn’t because I loved solving mathematic formulas or because I got off on measuring temperatures in Kelvin, but because I understood it relatively well and I had a teacher who made the work fun.

I’m no genius, certainly not smarter than any of my friends in Bellingham, but even when the material was challenging I understood what was happening. And when I didn’t, I’d raise my hand and the confusion would be instantly resolved. I was confident not in my own intellect but in my ability to comprehend this specific discipline of science. I thought, “Hey, I get this, I could probably even teach this. Hey, I like working with young people. Hmmm…”

And so I decided that for the time being I’d study to be a high school physics teacher. It didn’t take much thought, since everything about the job seemed to fit me quite well. Despite the lame stuff like homework, I always really enjoyed the structure of school. Having the same schedule and the same expectations every day was a bit dull, but at the same time it was comforting to know what my day would be like. I understand the material, and I even though I do love working with kids I think I’d still prefer high schoolers. If I want to make an impact, it’ll be very important for me to be able to level with my students and talk to them as equals, something that wouldn’t be possible or advised for a child’s teacher.

From my experience, being a “good” teacher is just as much a matter of personality as it is knowledge. Nowadays college physics is proving to be too complicated for my small monkey brain to handle, so for the moment personality is the only thing I’ve got down. My friends tell me I’d make a great teacher, and all I can do is hope that they’re right.

My Dad was a teacher, my Mom is a teacher, my brother is a teacher, my two sister-in-laws are teachers, and my other brother is in college to become a teacher. The way I see it, if this teaching thing doesn’t work out, I throw it off as an act of rebellion and say I’m just going against the grain.

“No! I will not educate the next generation! They can teach themselves physics, damnit!”

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