Foolishly Trying to Change the World
As a student teacher, I’ve heard a lot about ambition, and changing the world. I’ve heard a lot of my fellow student teachers talk about wanting to make a difference. I’ve heard a lot of full-time teachers relate glowingly their stories of having made a difference, and being engaged.
As I finished up my grading after school, my master teacher and another teacher talked shop talk. I paid attention only intermittently, more intent on the 10s, the 7s and the many, many 0s throughout the PowerSchool grading program.
The other teacher is just as committed as my master teacher, and she would do anything for her students within reason — any action or strategy that teaches them to fish rather than just giving them a fish right off the bat, that is. Upbeat, positive, model teacher.
Eventually, she said something about wanting to shut down and just give up, in a moment of end-of-the-year exasperation.
I joked: Whatever happened to changing the world? Giving up already?
I gave up changing the world a long time ago. That’s the first thing I learned as a teacher, that changing the world can’t be my goal.
Laughing, my master teacher asked:
Why do we think that? Why do you think we try to change the world? What’s up with that?
In mock frustration, she offered her hypothesis.
It’s those movies, those stupid movies, where the teacher changes the world and is awesome.
But if you actually watch the movies, the Jamie Escalantes don’t change the world. They don’t even change the school. They just change their class of 20 students.
Twenty students per class? Now that’s something out of Hollywood.