I really just need someone to tell me what to do

Today I had a conversation in which I mentioned that my teaching a science course will probably not help anyone, and was promptly told by my contact that I was being selfish. I was told that almost 50% of science teachers in the area have little to no experience with science, and that all it really takes is a passion for teaching – that given my existing qualifications, I was likely already better than a solid number of teachers in the area.

I guess there’s a serious teacher shortage in Arkansas, so much so that they actually do need me (or teachers like me). People  who are passionate about education, if nothing else.

But I guess I’m just wondering – if I go in there with no scientific knowledge, would I be furthering the problem? Or would my passion for students and education shine through? Can you really be good at teaching a subject you don’t personally enjoy? When I articulated this to another contact, he said that that was actually what helped him relate to this students – he could honestly say that he too had to work hard to get it, and in so doing, earn the respect of his students. But…could I really do it? Coming from a family of teachers, I’ve observed the sort of dedication required to be good at the position. My father is one of six, and four out of the six are teachers. Their subjects were actually math and science, so I suppose in a strange way I would simply be carrying on the family tradition.

I’m also remembering back to the days when I liked science. This was a while ago now, but I remember loving biology. I loved earth science, and until I was a freshman in high school, I really wanted to be a doctor. It was a long time ago now, but I remember when I enjoyed learning about stuff. I remember learning about science, and enjoying it for its own sake. I’ve changed a lot since those days, but something about the person I was then makes me want to accept this position, and really try.

Somewhere along the line, my life took a 180 turn. I went from wanting to be a doctor to a lawyer almost overnight, and I’ve never really looked back. But perhaps part of the problem is that I never accepted that perhaps I could enjoy things in multiple fields. I won’t lie; writing and reading will always be my first (and most dominant) loves. But there were days when I strongly preferred science to social studies.

That all changed with one teacher who really made me dislike science. There were a number of factors that led to me disliking that year – I was bullied by this awful child who was new to the district, I had entered my awkward stage, and I had a science teacher who loved science to the point where I felt compelled to dislike it out of rebellion. She would have us do strange science experiments we barely understood to feed her own love of the subject, and was never able to articulate to me what I was doing wrong. After that, while I still liked science itself, studying science held significantly less appeal.

Those days are quite a bit in the past at this point, and I’m not sure I can simply go back that way. But I probably could, right?

I guess I’m just thinking of a student who really enjoys science, and doesn’t have opportunities to learn more because they have a permanent substitute, or an absentee teacher, or no teacher at all. I may not love science myself, but I could do a lot to foster that love in my students, and I suppose that’s what being a teacher is all about it – it’s not about what I like, it’s about what they like.

Still. I can’t change the awful feeling that I would be a horrid science teacher and no student could ever benefit from my tutelage. I’m still trying to work it all out, and really figure out where my heart is. I do know that I would love to be a teacher, and that I have really strong feelings about education. I’m just not sure that actually becoming a teacher won’t cause more problems than it will solve.

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