cheesemonkey wonders

cheesemonkey wonders

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Tikkun olam, cheesemonkey-style, or why I became a public school teacher

This was my first Rosh Hashanah as a full-time teacher and it got me thinking, as Rosh Hashanah always does, about the obligations we have for tikkun olam, the obligation we hold as human beings to repair the world. But this year it also got me reflecting specifically on why I became a public school teacher.

To be truthful, I became a teacher because I am ashamed of what my generation and I have done in our society with what we were given.

As a alumna of Silicon Valley and of some truly amazing companies, I'm proud of the cultures, technologies, and connections we created in the world. 

But I am also disgusted by some of the other things my classmates and fellow Ivy League alumni bought into: greed and the amoral free-for-all that brought us the banking collapse, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Teach For America. The Gates Foundation. 

Way to grab power and simply install yourselves as the new assholes-in-chief, guys. Nicely played.

As Elizabeth Warren rightly points out, nobody who has done well in our society has done so alone. I know I didn't. Everyone stands on the shoulders of infrastructure and investments made by previous generations. 

My new colleagues and school community are wonderful and I feel lucky to be doing my part every day in a place that values what I am doing and why and gives me the support I need to do my job. But it also gave me cause to reflect on the fact that I'm just one bee in a world-enveloping hive.

When I get frustrated or discouraged, I try to remind myself that it took a long time for things to get this completely fucked up, so it shouldn't surprise anybody that it's going to take us some time to get things back on track. But at least there is a core of us out there, doing this work, every day.

So my advice to all in this new school year is that, if you notice that things have turned into a giant pile of shit, don't just stand there on the sidelines, kvetching, pointing fingers, and throwing money onto the pile. 

Grab a shovel and start digging.

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