The reluctant teacher - my personal and philosophical journey

When someone asks why I chose to teach, my honest answer is that I never really planned to. It's an odd admission, but my journey into education was, quite frankly, by accident. In this post, I share some of my personal story, with the hope that it inspires others.

The reluctant teacher - my personal and philosophical journey
prompt - a bald teacher with a goatee sitting on a pile of books, style of pixar.

I am what you might call a disinclined teacher.

As a point of fact, I am so reluctant that I get asked: Why did you become a teacher?

The simple reply is that I don’t know why!

The less straightforward response is I accidentally fell into it at a time in my life when I needed something to do. In part because of my assumption and expectations from others that I needed to go to University. My parents had gone to University (although they did not complete it), and I followed in their footsteps.

I repeated three first years of courses at three universities and then dropped out. I applied to be a bus driver, got accepted and was about to start when I realised it gave me little money and prospects. Looking back, a part of me wanted to conform and do what was expected.

I decided to give higher education another try. I found myself late one rainy Monday afternoon in a dusty office in a Careers centre in Camden, North London, excitedly looking at a dog-eared, paperback book full of various university courses. If memory serves me, the Bachelor in Education teaching course was the shortest. I had always been good at maths - where do I sign up?

Despite many years of moaning about the profession, teaching fulfils a part of me.

My decision to study to be a teacher, which, at the time, was an off-hand spontaneous reaction to my life situation, turned out to be one of the most critical choices and was to affect the rest of my life profoundly.

Did I need to go to University to be successful? It depends on what you mean by success. But I am in danger of being sidetracked, and there is a more complicated answer to my reticence to teach that 30 years after that fateful Monday, I am starting to understand. Despite many years of moaning about the profession, teaching fulfils a part of me. At the risk of the banal, it provided and continues to sustain meaning by encouraging others. The social justice aspect of helping others with my background (i.e., Black Boys), was appealing.

I'd have long periods where I would enjoy it, loving the challenge, interspersed with intense intervals of dissatisfaction.

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