Digital Natives and Analogue Missionaries (2/6)

I’m a teacher. 

Funnily enough I didn’t want to be when I was growing up.  I wanted to be an architect.  I’ve always liked buildings.  Someone, at some point, told me that you needed to be great at Maths to be an architect.  Because I have always hated Maths, I stopped planning to be an architect, and entered about twenty years of bumbling along with no clear direction.  I do remember that during this time of bumbling I definitely didn’t want to be a teacher.  My mother was a teacher and she didn’t particularly like it.  That put me off.  Also, as a kid and teenager I wasn’t really a fan of school.  I preferred being by myself or living in a fantasy world populated by rock guitarists, dungeons, dragons and notions of being a writer.  In the end being in debt, and over-educated and adrift I went to Japan with Cathy to teach English. 

Why Japan?  It was there, and it was offering a job.

Cathy and I were in Japan for five and a half years.  It was a very influential experience in my growing up.  One thing I found was that I liked teaching.  I should have gone straight to teachers’ college when we came back to New Zealand but I didn’t.  When we came back to New Zealand it rained a lot.  I was depressed and culture shocked.  I got a job teaching English at an English Language School but one morning I walked out without telling anyone, went home and lay down on the bedroom floor.  Figuratively it took me a long, long time to get back up off the bedroom floor.

Too much drinking, too much self-pity, and a dreadful draft novel later, Cathy convinced me to go to Teacher’s College.  What I should probably write now is: “and I never looked back”.  Except, of course, that this is not true.  I look back constantly.  Even now, as a fairly experienced and happy teacher, I look back.

My first five years out of Teacher’s College were spent at what is known euphemistically as a “challenging” school.  It certainly was challenging.  There were times in that first year where I found myself back on the bedroom floor wondering how or if I would ever get back up again.  I did a lot of stupid things.  Sometimes I wasn’t a very good person or a very good teacher.  All I can say is that I think in the end I got bit better at being both, and that I learned a lot about myself and about other people.  Life is a lot harder for a lot of people in New Zealand than I had ever realised.

Now I am in my second year at quite a different school.

Cathy and I went to Japan in 1998.  In 2012 then I find that I have been teaching, taking into account a couple of gaps, for about twelve years.  Which is all really just a long preamble to show my credentials before I carry on.  Essentially I am saying that my credentials in education boil down to experience as a teacher and thoughtfulness. 

I think that’s all you need though.  Sometimes, but not always (there’s no always about anything), it’s a good idea to stay away from experts.  Even if they are prefixed Sir.

4 thoughts on “Digital Natives and Analogue Missionaries (2/6)”

  1. Thnaks for sharing your intersting story about how you came into teaching. Mine own story has a lot of similarities, particulalry ahving a parent who was a caree teacher and at times did not enjoy it it. He did everything to disaude me from the idea of entering teachers college. Ah but in the end I did after much encouragement from other sources who saw the naturla teacher demonstrated many time by me, without realisng it. There also came a time in my life where I did hit rock bottom and needed a new purpose in life to lift me up. I love education always have, even as a kid. I too have worked at some challenging schools, including hte one you worked at. Crazy times they were, but those experiences have made me stronger today and able to cope with what gets chucked at me in the classrooms I teach in today. State schools are raw and real. Full of real everyday kids with real everyday experiences and for some school is a haven from the mess of their home lives. Life is indeed a journey, not a destination.

  2. I’m still at that bloody school. I get to school at 7am and the days are long. The upside is that I steal a bit of time to practise my violin. For me life IS a destination that goes by the name of ‘weekend’. Sorry to sound a bit negative but it is Monday morning.

  3. Yeah but at least you don’t have to drive up that ruddy hill every day! You could ride you bike to work if you really wanted too. Avoiding the long daily commute to work each day is a real bonus. Amazing how much more energy it gives you by the end of the week.

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