The Essence of Teaching

“…what profound thoughts and feelings are at the heart of his desire to teach. It is more than a job or a possible career; teaching is a calling of the most personal kind. It reaches deep into our souls as a desire to help and be of service to those children whose ignorance of the world would limit their ability to contribute to its enhancement.”

by Rog Lucido: What do we Tell the Teachers who Take Our Place?

Rog wonderfully captures why I decided to be a high school math teacher after 25 years in high-tech.  It is the essence of teaching.

I also empathize with Rog’s concerns where he states, “…it was personal to me as I saw so many of my fellow teachers giving up on what they knew were life-giving teaching practices and acquiescing to the high-stakes testing preparation programs that have infected so many of our schools.  All they had wanted to do was teach their students using all their skills and experiences that produced a set of ‘best practices’ to the benefit of their students. When the light goes out of a teacher’s eyes, when their desire to teach is diluted by site and district test preparation practices, it is difficult to watch. It takes a lot to give up on a lifelong dream, especially if you have been able to see its effects on your students.  What kind of force has been brought to bear to so thoroughly divest teachers of their highest aspirations?”

As someone new to this field, why so many rail against teachers escapes me.  It is the most challenging job emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually I’ve ever held.  It’s also the most honorable; I am not chasing after material gain, as I make around 20% of what I made in high-tech.  Truth be told, I made more in 1991 than what I now make as a first year teacher, not adjusting for inflation.  While I sometimes worry that I am not being financially responsible to my family in my career change, I believe I offer my two young sons insight into what it means to follow your passion, to serve others, and to persist through challenge, in spite of the vociferous attacks waged upon teachers, or their unions.

My question for all education reformers is rather than lambast teachers, why not encourage them?  If improving student achievement was truly the goal, as opposed to dismantling a public institution in pursuit of greater profits for private industries, why not invest in improving public education facilities, technology infrastructure, and other productivity enhancers?  Why not provide effective tools and true support for the ever-increasing demands placed on public school teachers?  If we truly are the most influential in-school reason for a child’s achievement, why not do everything to support us in our mission, as opposed to jeering from the sidelines?

I simply do not get it otherwise.


About Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher

Secondary math teacher teaching math intervention, algebra 1, honors precalculus, and AP Calculus AB. I spent 25 years in high tech in engineering, marketing, sales and business development roles in the satellite communications, GPS, semiconductor, and wireless industries. I am awed by the potential in our nation's youth and I hope to instill in them the passion to improve our world at local, state, national, and global levels.
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4 Responses to The Essence of Teaching

  1. Horace Mann says:

    “I believe I offer my two young sons insight into what it means to follow your passion, to serve others, and to persist through challenge,”

    Great phrase. I hope they also see that not only do you teach, but you defend teaching.


  2. russtowne says:

    Thank you, Dave!


  3. Pingback: How hard is teaching? | Reflections of a Second-career Math Teacher

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