For 12 oddly inconsistent years, I pretended to be a college instructor at a private college in St. Paul. If you know me even a little you know that academia is pretty much the last institution on the planet that should have adopted me. I grew up in an educators’ household, my father was a business/math teacher and my step-mother was a piano teacher, but as David Sedaris wrote, “Like branding steers or embalming the dead, teaching was a profession I had never seriously considered.”
In fact, I have branded steers and it wasn’t bad work, other than the company and the low pay. 100 years ago, I would have considered that to be pretty good work and I’d have still avoided teaching. I have never figured myself for an undertaker, though. When I decided, thanks for the non-existent knowledge of my high school’s “advisors,” that my talent for mathematics qualified me to be an accountant or a math teacher, I sailed my ship toward a life as a rock & roll star. Nobody in Dodge City High School’s 1965 faculty imagined a kid from our armpit of a town could become an “engineer,” unless a striped hat and the Santa Fe Railroad was involved.
When I hear media morons denigrate teachers, especially K-12 teachers, I try to remember that these characters probably had a long string of bad teachers who were well deserved by their students; assuming the media morons are typical of the material they had to work with. It’s a nasty job and no one who has a choice would do it under the usual conditions. When I started, it was not under anything resembling usual conditions. I lucked into a situation with great management, a strong program, and wonderful students. It didn’t last, but the fact that it ever existed is pretty amazing and unusual.