Once you leave the idealism of college, you encounter real life.
For the past couple weeks, I have been reading a discussion going on between a group of alumni who are currently teachers in various states throughout the US.
One teacher, a graduate from several years ago, wrote the following after a particularly frustrating day:
"Hey undergrads, no matter how awesome and inspiring and cute ProfessorA and ProfessorB are, do NOT become teachers. I swear."
When I first read it, I laughed aloud. ProfessorA and ProfessorB are incredibly awesome and inspiring and cute. They make you want to plow past all the troubles that you know you will encounter and be that liberal-minded idealistic teacher that they are encouraging you to become.
But then after I stopped laughing and reread the quote, it made me feel really sad. Why is it that teachers are put in positions where they are made to feel so let down and pessimistic? I know most jobs are going to have days where it just doesn't really feel worth all the trouble. But lately, all the alumni posting in the forum have been sounding increasingly cynical about their effectiveness and value as a teacher. The testing, the lack of respect, the huge class sizes. The reality of it all is wrenching the "education student idealism" out of them.
I'm not entirely sure what the point I am trying to make is. I just know that it makes me feel sad to hear that conditions are so universally uncomfortable and problematic.
How would it affect us (the education students) if we heard more about those problems on a specific individual level? Of course, we all read Kozol, we read newspaper articles, we know there are problems out there. And we're in the education program because we want to fix it. We want to make it at least a little better for a few students. We want to be able to say that at least the students in our class will have a caring, supportive, enthusiastic teacher. But what happens if that's drained out of us by the opposition we face? Can we still be the teachers that ProfessorA and ProfessorB have encouraged us to be?