Irregardless Magazine

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Those Who Can’t Do, Teach

The other day, a friend of mine told me about a discussion she had with her academic adviser about pursuing teaching. Her adviser firmly suggested that she pick another career path. My friend’s counter argument was, “Maybe you hate your job, but I really like teaching.”

I find myself struggling over the same debate. Every time I think about what I’m going to do after I finish graduate school I think, well…I could teach.

I do enjoy teaching—I love it—but there are so many other things out there that one can do to help people and to contribute to society.

I think the reason my friend’s adviser was so adamantly against teaching was because immediately considering teaching as a career path is kind of like saying, “I give up on ever growing up.” The classroom is the only thing you’ve ever known since you were in preschool, and so you decide to just stick with it.

Telling your teacher that you want to teach is much like telling them that they’ve failed. Your instructors teach their subjects because they want you to use that knowledge out in the world, not to just recycle it and teach it to another generation. Knowledge is only a means to an end. It’s not meant to be merely recycled or hoarded, but actually used.

In a perfect world teachers would all be retirees who have lived life and are ready to relax and impart the knowledge they’ve gathered to a younger generation. But obviously this is not yet the case.

Someone needs to teach (and its better to have someone passionate about it than someone just doing it for a paycheck), but teaching really should be something you do after getting a taste of the real world. You should at least consider some of the other near infinite options before you turn in your cards.