How do you know you're done with a job?
I've been a teacher my whole adult life. Even my summer jobs have been about teaching. But I'm done. Here's how I can tell: I wrote this note to a kid (I didn't give it to him). It captures where I'm at with this job, the sadness it engenders.
I worry that the sum total of your life will be framed within the narrow confines of an iPhone. To live virtually, through a phone, is no life at all.
How is a phone different from the book I'm trying to get you to read? Why is a book so good and a phone so bad? I'm glad I asked.
Phones are all about now and me. They are self-centered, ego-driven, isolating things. People argue that phones connect people, but I don't buy it.
Books are about forever and everyone including me. Books help us to make connections inside ourselves and with others near and far. Those connections last and build things. Plus you never have to charge a book or upgrade its operating system. It's a hell of a deal.
I wish texting had another name. Text is a sacred word. Books are texts. The Torah, The Quran, and The Bible are texts. Letters written to someone you love are texts. Writing is text and it is the top of the pyramid.
Texting, on the other hand, is brief snippets of conversation that are less substantial than the wind and more polluted. I wonder if there have been one hundred texts in the course of history worth saving. If there have been a dozen, that's a miracle.
I encourage you to set the phone aside and get into something more substantial like your book or even just the real world.
But here’s the thing: You and I both know you won’t. That makes me sad.
I signed off feeling there's little I can do for students so lost to headphones, screens, and a virtual world that leaves them anxious, angry, and isolated.
In the last half dozen years I've become less effective at reaching kids. This year it has made me so sad I can't go on. This job is pretty much killing my spirit.
There may be other teaching in my future, different kinds of teaching, but I don't know. I hope that whoever follows me in this job will be able to do it the way I used to, to make a difference, and keep themselves on an even keel, sailing off into the sunset. Me, I'm tacking in another direction.