Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why do I do this?

I look for little affirmations for my career choice. Heck, I need to have something during this pessimistic winter, a winter in which pay has been stagnant. A winter in which my profession has become a political target (not without some blame on our part). A winter in which I've seen a very talented young colleague leave the profession (and do so quite logically). And let us not forget, a winter in which I've been teaching the dismal science (Economics has earned that name fair and square).

The most recent affirmation came in a surprising way. My wife went on a scrapbooking retreat Friday into Saturday. The two of us never talked until about 5 pm on Saturday, and that was about the logistics of when she was coming home and what that entailed for dinner. Many of her friends were on the phone often with their spouses, remedying some problem at home with the kids. Her best friend left a bit early because she feared what she would find after her husband and two boys were home alone for 36 hours. But Sherry, she never worried a bit.

Though the relationship is profoundly different, the mode into which I enter as a dad isn't that different from the mode I achieve as a teacher. In both settings there is a great responsibility of moral leadership. As a teacher, you find yourself constantly as the one with wisdom and maturity entrusted with the care of others. Most days (thank God) aren't matters of life or death vigilance. But my days in school are days of vigilance regarding the safety, disposition, and character of those with whom I am entrusted. It builds a competence and a sense of principle when around others and translates nicely to my life as a dad.

It's why Sherry never felt the impulse to call and make sure things were okay around the household. She knew they were fine, though not as clean and not with as much vegetables had she been here.

I have often thought of how my life as a father reinforces my profession as a teacher and vice versa. That my teaching experiences can inform my conduct as a father is one of the great gifts of this profession.

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