The reluctant expert, or "Why teaching is sexy"

willmathsville chalkboard While I'm no expert in the ways of things blogular, I've been doing it long enough, and obsessively enough, let's face it, to have learned a few things along the way.

The same goes for acting (which I was relieved to let go of almost a year ago), writing, design, presenting, cooking and, just because I've pulled 45 summers with my eyes open, for living.

Occasionally, an awareness of this knowledge floats to the surface on its own, in those rare moments when I am both lucid and chatter-free enough to let it. An appropriately sized bubble of gratitude and wonder will float to the surface, pop, and I'm back at my task, persuading or kerning or chopping. A nanosecond's awareness in the moment.

For a true sense of distance, I need a marker or a mirror, either someone I've known in my clumsier days, who helps me mark the distance between then and now, or someone seeing it for the first time.

While the former is great for boosting my ego (the student OUTSHINES THE MASTERRRR!!!), the latter is more deeply satisfying. Seeing the lights go on and the wheels start to turn, watching the world of possibilities unfold before your very eyes is unbelievably exhilarating. Maybe not better than sex or cookies or making someone laugh, but right up there with them.

I can see how it might be addictive, even for those poor souls struggling to do it the old-fashioned way, amidst the inclement conditions much of our public school system offers. Hell, maybe even more so, for the right kind of masochist.

Doing it with willing and capable students? O, bliss.

My introverted nature means I can only offer so much in the way of up-close-and-personal teaching before I need to crawl back into my cave for some serious "me" time. Yes, I'm energized after a few hours of coaching or an evening of nerdmasters, but I'm also noticeably depleted. I've become more careful about scheduling in general, at least, scheduling time with others. I think I'll probably struggle with overwork until I drop from it.

But after years of wondering who in the world could stand to be a teacher, and why, I know the answer to both. We are all of us teachers, connecting each other to the light. And a life without light would be like a life without sex or cookies or making someone laugh: bearable, I suppose, but only just...

xxx c

Image by via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.