In 1984 I was born to a high school math teacher and a mother who became a middle school math when I was a 2nd grader. Conversation about teaching was never approached in a, “you can do it too Alonzo,” manner, it was more like a, “whatever you do stay away from education!” This mostly came from my mom. For those who are or have experience with a momma’s boys you know that Mommas are ultra protective of their babies. She wasn’t telling me not follow my dreams of being a teacher because I didn’t have those dreams, she was not trying to keep me from the children that I interact with or city I chose to teach in, but what she was trying to keep me from was all that takes place in education after the class is dismissed. She was trying to protect me from the blatant partiality that takes place in the schools, the politics that control hires and fires, and the nepotism that keeps the best option in a negative situation and ultimately out of the job. And I thank you mom for trying to look out for me.
I remember reading an article which talked about how in Europe a child’s profession is predetermined. They typically take on the job of their parents. That didn’t make sense to me at first. Initially I thought, “that’s not fair that a child can’t choose their career path,” but what is going on is quite the opposite. The child grows up watching a parent work. Sometimes they even visit their parents at work, insistently mock them, in my case playing school, and pretty much spending those developmental years around that particular profession. All that I said above defines what an apprenticship is and the present day job shadowing we do to finish out major requirements before graduating college. Whatever it is that our parents do become second nature the child because we grow up in the profession.
That is why sometimes I may say that I’ve been teaching for four years, but have been in education for 31 years. Mom tried to shelter me from the challenges of the profession much of what I’m enduring today. I even took on a major that had no hint of education in it. Ironically while in college I tutored to as a campus job. The art of explaining, elaborating,and modeling came natural to me. My dad along with teaching was a preacher as well and his delivery behind the pulpit was much like his delivery in the classroom.
As fore mentioned I was a momma’s boy, so I spent a lot of time with my mom, but I watched my dad and took note of everything he did from the way he held the stirring wheel while driving to how he patiently explained the most complex topics in mathematics when sickness would have me sitting in the back of his classroom all day at Lincoln Sr High.
All these interactions both directly and indirectly planted seeds into my future. In spite of all the head aches and heart aches that encompass teaching, those moments when they bring questions of inquiry and all those Ah ha moments fuel me to stand in front of learners, so I try to keep them motivated to continue to chase knowledge. So in all sincerity, thanks mom and dad.
Teaching was birthed in me early because of my parents and is what I do today. How has your parents profession guided your own?