On Sun, Feb 9, 2014 at 8:07 PM, Greg Goodknight <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> > Your naive belief that one's ability to shed light is commensurate with > some tightly measured quantity involving "degrees" and "certificates" must > vastly [over]-simplify your thinking about life in general. How wonderful > for you to not have to think too many complicated thoughts. > > > Nice stab at a purely personal attack, Kirby, but it remains true that no > public school in any state I know of would let you teach math at the > secondary level without some minimal evidence beyond your own rhetoric that > you have mastered the subject well enough to teach at that level. That > usually means some formal training and/or an exam. >
Yes, I was fortunate to be able to sign on as a high school teacher almost purely on the basis of my eagerness to teach. I was taking graduate level courses in education at the time at nearby St. Peter's College on Kennedy Boulevard, in hopes of beefing up the resume, and the head of the department realized how eager I was for the front lines. When the positions opened, because of tragic deaths, he approached me directly, very storybook.
I started teaching in the middle of October, having settled behind Lowe's Theater on Journal Square. I'd spent that summer in Cairo, Egypt, based in the family apartment. Mom was working with Zabaleen (Coptic) and dad with the Ministry of Planning and so on. I had a section of World History, along with the maths, and the class found it exotic when I announced I was just back from Egypt (the topic we were studying).
I took Arabic at Princeton pass / fail the year before in hopes of building up my abilities, but joined the class late and found out too late this was not conversational Egyptian but classical Arabic, malesh. I used that knowledge in DC later when I had a library job at Georgetown U, refiling Arabic language titles to their proper place on the shelves (but surely I had Dewey decimals so it can't have been that hard -- memory fades).
> You left that gig after what looks to be your second year, never again in > the three following decades to take charge of a regular high school > classroom. It takes a great deal of naiveté to think you were just too good > at it to continue. > > -Greg > >
Right. I took charge of an irregular middle school classroom when Portland Public decided TAG kids should be bussed to a special building on Marine Drive to rub shoulders with adults clearly into the same subject areas, but not teachers, the theory being they needed non-teacher input.
The theory may have been sound but in practice they micromanaged it too much. Saturday Academy, with similar goals, but a different design, worked better.
I also worked on helping LEP High get going, a new charter / public with an early college prep focus (cross-enrollment encouraged) and high idealism. My daughter considered going there but went to her regular district high school, where she co-started the debate team and led it to national championships.
There's a pattern if you hadn't noticed of young people with no dependents, possibly not much debt -- though those were the old days -- going for idealistic, low paying jobs such as Peace Corps, Americorps or "teaching in an inner city school" or whatever.
Those of us from privileged Liberal Arts backgrounds were / are taught to romanticize such possibilities. In truth, if you didn't find a mate in college, you could expect others sharing your idealism to at least be interesting.
That's not to say I joined St. Dom's -- as one of rather few male faculty -- in search of a mate (the nuns were not especially available), but that I was expressing my high idealism in an early phase of life, reflecting my values and upbringing.
Turns out it was a great job and I could have stayed, was clearly welcome to. I've been back since for a nostalgic visit.
But I had already determined that "a first job after college" and "a life long career" would not necessarily be the same thing.
I wanted to explore more.
I ended up doing a lot of babysitting right after that, but that's another story. Caring for baby skills would come in handy later as well. My parents were still in Egypt. Bangladesh, Bhutan and Lesotho were still ahead.