If you’ve been following me on twitter, you know that I am right now in the Philippines where I am involved in my employer’s response to the disaster caused by Typhoon Megi (locally, Typhoon Juan). I will publish a post or two about this disaster response in due course. For now, though, as a post-script to the previous post, “Professional!”, I’d like to share with you in it’s almost-entireity an email message that I received directly.
From my very own sister.
By way of context, I’ll tell you that she teaches English literature and composition to high school students in ____. It’s a place where pickup trucks outnumber hybrid Civics, where Confederate flags are a perfectly acceptible form of yard decor, and where time spent mastering subjects like, say, English is of nebulous value compared with, say, varsity football. Getting the picture?
“…it occurred to me whilst reading [Professional?
that a somewhat similar context/crisis exists within the field of education and may go some way toward reflecting (if not explaining) the current “push-back” you experience when you suggest that aid work is a profession, not a pastime. when one considers that certain government initiatives within education, of which Teach For America
is probably the most notable, are predicated on the notion that the average american citizen, armed with nothing more than a “passion for change” (why is the hyper-inflated expression of cliched sentimentality ALWAYS the last refuge of the emotionally incontinent and the intellectually constipated?!!!! but i digress…) and some type of professional experience in ANY field, college degree preferred but not necessarily required, can march into any of thousands of this country’s high schools and get paid fairly well for a stint of teaching, you begin to catch a glimpse into the “big, dumb galoot” quadrant of the american psyche. i mean, i love my countrymen like beer, but REALLY?!!! When entire <air quotes>reality shows can center on the premise of washed-up actors (think tony danza of “who’s the boss” fame) re-inventing themselves as high school english teachers for a year of teach- for -america type community service (and sadly no, i am NOT making this up), i think it’s not too far a leap to the great beyond of public service that is The Rest of The World.
many of the new recruits who have to interview me as part of their educational training requirements seem genuinely curious and not a little stunned to learn that i think content expertise counts for as much if not more than their ability to manufacture a crossword puzzle for the scarlet letter or organize a cooperative learning experience for to kill a mockingbird. and that’s before they have any “experience.” apparently, this is a trans-profession attitude.
all this windy monlogue merely to observe that americans really are equal opportunitsts. we don’t seem to impose (m)any spuriously reasoned, poorly implemented strategies on the third world that we aren’t willing to foist off on our own children.
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And my kids are just now starting school… Fabulous.