While waiting for me to start the review session for their upcoming exam, one student asked, “So why are you a teacher?” “You mean my motivation for teaching?” I asked. “No, I mean, didn’t you say you were a physical therapist? So I’ve been wondering why you’re a teacher,” he clarified.
Oh how I loved this question. I explained that yes, I went to school for PT but that I figured out in my sophomore year that I didn’t want to do PT as my major anymore. And what I sensed but couldn’t quite articulate at the time was that it wasn’t so much that the courses didn’t interest me. It was that so many other courses interested me and I couldn’t take them. I wanted to take languages, and philosophy. I wanted to study abroad. This was all difficult if not impossible to do in the strict pre-professional program I was in.
I gave my students the abbreviated version. I told them how my entire physical therapy class knew I didn’t like the program, but that when we graduated I was just one of two students with a job in the field. I told them how I cried every day when I came home from that part-time PT job and eventually quit after just two months.
“You didn’t like it?” Ryan asked. “Well, it was just that I wanted to do all these other things,” I explained. I started listing the things I’ve done since then. “I’ve been a park ranger, worked for the census, did a year of volunteer work.” “How old are you?” Caitlin asked. “You don’t look a day over 25!” I love when they say that:) “33,” I answered.
“So is teaching your favorite thing?” Maria asked. “Yes, I do love teaching.” I went on to explain, though, that I will probably never do it full-time – that there’s nothing that will interest me full-time. That the longest I’ve held a full-time job is 18 months. “So will you keep teaching?” Caitlin inquired. “Until I get bored with it,” I said. I wished my lectures on anatomy and physiology held their attention like my words did at that very moment. They were fascinated. “Well, actually,” I said, “next year I’m going to live at a Folk School for four months and take classes in blacksmithing and basket making and writing and stuff.” They stared at me with gaped mouths. “Oh – and I want to do this pilgrimage walk across Spain next year too.”
“You’re all over the place!” Ryan said. That used to be an insult to me, but now it’s a compliment. Exactly! I’m all over the place! How wonderful is that? Look at all the things I’ve done, all that’s still ahead of me.