A Lesson for my Students

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.

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