I once wanted to be a teacher. In fact, until I was about 23 years old, I thought that was going to be my future. Then I taught, and found it wasn’t for me. Not the teaching part, the public education administration part. It only took one example to show me public education was fundamentally broken.
The local museum in town had this great exhibit in for only two weeks, by chance my class was studying the same thing, what luck, I thought to myself, the kids will love this! I went to my principal and told her I wanted to take the kids to museum instead our annual trip to the zoo. “Can’t do that”, she said, “had to be approved a year in advance, but you can do it next year”. “It won’t be here next year, it’s a traveling exhibit, it’s only here this year.”, I explained. “Sorry, won’t happen”, she replied. “What if I got parents to do this after school, or on a weekend, and it wouldn’t cost anything?”, I pleaded. “Nope, can’t let you do it, don’t waste your energy on this”, she could see my rising frustration on something that made no sense.
So, we went to the zoo. The same zoo the kids went to every year, for the same tour, same learning, same cage animals, not even trying to get out.
The writing was on the wall for me, right then and there. These people didn’t really care about educating kids. They cared about following process and procedure. Even if it didn’t make sense. My dream of being an educator needed an adjustment.
My dream didn’t die, I just found a new way to scratch that itch. So many people believe if they didn’t reach their dream, that it dies. I think that’s just an easy way to getting out of doing the hard work. The hard work isn’t all that you put into reaching your dream. That is actually work you enjoy, you’re chasing your dream. The hard work starts when you can’t reach your dream, or you decide the dream you had is no longer the dream you want. The hard work starts the moment you adjust your dream to something else.
I truly believe people should chase their dreams for as long as they’re appropriate. Awesome, you want to play football in the NFL, that’s great! You’re now 38 years old and never made a roster, time to make an adjustment! How about working in some capacity in the NFL? Coaching? Marketing?
We give people a false sense that it’s alright to chase your dreams forever. We even give them examples of some 90 year old lady who ran her first marathon, or something like that. We encourage it. Never do we feel it’s appropriate to tell someone, “Hey, maybe it’s time to think about something else”. Maybe it’s time to adjust your dream. It’s okay. You won’t shrivel up and die. It’s just a dream, they’re adjustable.
Great post, I teach grad school HR as an adjunct to scratch my itch to teach…Oh and I work for the highest profile charter school organization in the country (in HR) because as you noted- Education should be about the kids, not the adults…
So I get to do Hr and work for an organization making a difference in the lives of others…kinda a Win-Win.