Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Public Virtue.

I loved Batman.  (But don't ask Jason because he'd probably say I hated it.)  (It's not my fault I can't sit still!)

But while I was watching the movie I kept thinking about something I used to teach back at Paradigm when I taught leadership.

Public Virtue.

It's something that we don't really talk about much any more.  But back when I was crazy and thought it was fun to read the political philosophies of the founding fathers. (Yes, I used to think that was cool.)  The founding fathers, particularly Jefferson, Madison, and Adams kept talking about this thing public virtue.  I didn't really understand what it meant at first.  Eventually the definition that I used in my classes to describe public virtue was: sacrificing personal gain for the benefit of society.

Even as I type the definition I think it sounds a bit crazy.  But sadly I think our constitution and our freedom are in jeopardy because we think that public virtue sounds crazy.  I could start into a history lesson of stories that have become legends about key figures during the American Revolution that had public virtue.  I could talk about how Jefferson lost his wife and daughter because he signed the declaration.  I could talk about Robert Morris who died in debtors prison after practically financing the entire war particularly the Christmas Day attack when George crossed the Delaware.  And don't even get me started about George!!!! But I get it.... no one wants to hear a history lesson.  Half of you have probably already stopped reading.

But as I sat and watched Batman I just kept thinking about how much we crave public virtue in our society today.  We all see how important it is for a society to function.  We see that without it freedom can not exist. But sometimes I'm afraid rather than actually trying to do things to better society we want to dream that some invincible guy will come around and do the hard things for us.

It's about time to start another school year.  Anyone that knows me knows that I have a difficult time teaching.  Just the thought of going back in my classroom makes me want to cry.  So the rest of this post is a peptalk to myself.  So any teacher out there, this is for you too.

The other day someone said to me, "Kristin, you make teaching too hard.  You need to learn how to coast.  You need to get to the point where you aren't so invested in the kids.  Think of how easy teaching could be."  Although I appreciated this person's concern for my welfare... the reason I am a teacher is not because of summers off... spring break.... christmas break.... fall break... thanksgiving break...short mondays... or my great benefits.  As much as I complain, as much as punk students drive me crazy, as much as I am so exhausted at the end of the day, Jason gets it.  Last night we were watching a little story during the Olympics on Michael Phelps and how he is the best in the world.  I asked Jason if he could be the best in the world at something what would he want.  As I asked I was dreaming about being the fastest runner in the world.  I think that would be pretty incredible.  You know those people that run like gazelles.  I don't even remember what Jason's response was.  (Yes I am a terrible girlfriend.  I am sure it had something to do with flying....)  Then I asked Jason, "What do you think I would like to be the best in the world at?"  I figured he'd say running.... I was shocked when he said, "Although you probably won't admit it, you say you are so sick of it, but I think you'd want to be the best teacher in the world."

He was so right.

The reason why I am constantly reinventing the wheel as a teacher, the reason why I spend so much time and energy trying to come up with ideas and stories for heart to hearts, the reason I don't just hand out packets is because to me my job is so much more than a job.  To me teaching is my way to try and help society.  To me being a teacher is about public virtue.  In other words, working with punk 14 year olds all day is my way to get to where a cape.  

1 comment:

emilee said...

I'd say you're pretty dang close, Miss Parson.
I learned a lot from you. & you changed my entire perspective on education as a whole; enough so that I now want to spend MY life teaching middle-school punks. :)