“Those that can't do, teach; and those that can't teach... teach gym.”
- Jack Black, as Dewey Finn in The School of Rock (2003)
|Slapit, shoot it, ka-boot it.|
It seems popular in movies to depict teaching as quite comical. Some films and documentaries have been downright demeaning toward the teaching profession. In response to such criticisms Taylor Mali has created a poem on “what teachers make.” Although I like and agree with much of what Taylor said in his poetic response I think he gets too emotional and overly defensive, he makes inappropriate gestures, and then tops it off with the pompous claim "I make a difference!"
Good grief how about a little humility?
Obviously the cliché quote on teaching is all about pride. It is the classic knee-jerk response to put someone down because you have failed to better yourself. Perhaps bad gym teachers are the ones to blame for this in the first place. They were the stereotypical star athletes that peaked in high school or college. Now they are middle-aged teachers who seek to reaffirm themselves on pudgy and out-of-shape kids through dodge ball games. For example check out the Billy Bob Thornton character in the movie Mr. Woodcock (2007).
The fact of the matter is I recently got into fitness as a middle-aged chemist working in the pharmaceutical industry. Sure we “made things” and just before a Pfizer takeover they wanted to make a blockbuster diet pill. Now one thing I have learned is that fitness is not an overnight sensation. In addition there are so many benefits beyond the physical that come with a sense of personal wellness.
This fitness journey changed my world view. I want to teach because I would like to help inspire students to make a difference in their world. During student teaching I have experienced moments in which students have expressed the excitement of having figured out a pattern of my “silent jumping jacks,” or the joy of adding their personal movements to a jai ho dance lesson, or even just seeing their smile after doing a cartwheel for the first time. They are all the joys of taking a risk at a career change and not for taking the easy way out.
After seeing some of the more egregious failures of the American public education system documented in “Waiting for Superman" (2010) a little humility might be needed. Certainly there is an urgent unmet need for passionate teachers with creative lessons, new and exciting ideas to build the fundamental skills and understandings of American youth to match their confidence. I want to inspire our youth to move, to learn about their movement, which in turn will help them realize the difference they can make..