Are we to become New Age poseurs, making our inability to fight the good fight with “spiritual” platitudes about “taking care of ourselves”? And if this change is necessary and even desirable, how are we to reconcile our new priorities with all those years sacrificed on the altar of success?”
-Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga
Day 28 – My sister-in-law and long time friend tagged me in the photo of a trailhead in the campground she was exploring this past week. The trailhead sign posted numerous warnings. In short, it warned: “If you are out-of-shape, clueless, and/or unprepared, don’t be a fool and walk on this trail.” Unfortunately, most of us, me especially, become unprepared as we begin to work toward our meaningful life goals. Having accomplished many things in my life, I’m prepared for what life hands me. However, being handed an assignment of teaching math next year left me befuddled and extremely angry.
Rolf writes today of the four states of human journey (according to Hindu thought): desire for pleasure, desire for success, desire for community, and desire for liberation. He describes his own journey through these evolutionary stages, writing: “Under normal circumstances, letting go of our own self-image as an achiever, as a winner in the game of life, is a difficult transition. It is nothing less than the death of one self and the birth of another.” In my assignment to math, I–a reading and writing teacher–am being forced to look at how my administrators see me and the whole education enchilada. Honestly, I feel like the night Trump was elected President. I want to know how to get off this ride altogether. Should I leave teaching? Should I change schools? Should I change counties? What should I do?
I’m not sure it really matters at all. There may be other reasons that I was chosen for this monumental task of teaching middle school math after 16 years of being a reading specialist, which I think deserves a conversation between my administrator and me; however, my place as a teacher in this system will be nothing short of some of the other well-intentioned, amazing teachers I’ve worked with–a dying ember in a fire that burned brightly for a moment and was doused by cold and calculating waters of Common Core, top-down autocrats and test-makers, who see teachers as widgets who fill a need, which has absolutely nothing to do with the nourishment and care of our children. Hungry, we eat, no matter what concoction the cafeteria serves up for us.