What to Burn When All the Forest is Gone?

There is something that few teachers ever put into words, a behavior that I find to be quite tragic both in general and in my current position. Maybe it is because few enough teachers are people who were meant to be teachers or have a ‘true vocation’ for teaching. The reasons why I have not seen this mentioned before are alone worthy of discussion.

Teaching treats your spirit as wood for the flames and much like a forest fire; it does not often return what it has taken. If ever.

Far be it for me to weigh the merits of teaching as a profession or vocation, in any context, given the relatively little experience as I have – I can say this. Teaching takes from your spirit and does not readily give back. Waxing poetic though that and my earlier description might be, the reality is that all too often you are expending energy (biological, esoteric or otherwise) and rarely if ever do you see the outcome of that expenditure. Youth and overall lack of experience might be cause enough for others to naysay my feelings on this matter, or downplay this in favor of their own more experienced commentary however I do feel that this is something that many teachers feel but too often do not mention for fear of… something. I honestly do not know what.

Enough people have said that teaching is not the breezy profession that many think it is that I do not need to go in to that further. What is often left out of that however, is the mentioning of why many people go into teaching full of life and colour and come out of it only a few short years later broken inside and drained of their spirt. Which might seem difficult for people to see or understand at first, myself included, but it doesn’t take very much time at the other end of the stick to start to see and feel it. At first it doesn’t feel all that different to the every day rigmarole, but gradually things start to fall away. Little things mostly but gradually they start to build up into bigger and bigger things. Before long, you’re burning the midnight oil at both ends of the candle. Eventually, you wind up a husk and there isn’t anything left at the end of the day leaving with no thought except for dinner and bed.

Obviously not all teachers will find themselves in the exact same positions, and so the causes and effects will vary from context to context – however it is something that all teachers experience. Hence, it is something that all teachers must learn to cope with and overcome. It becomes an issue however, when that struggle bleeds into every aspect of your life.

I have often said and will probably continue to say for a long time yet, that I am still only at the very beginning stages of my Praxis. Severals years into this and I admit that I occasionally feel a certain kind of envy towards those who seem to have had so much more development in their praxis than I have in mine, and in less time too. Never the less, I continue in my efforts – however those efforts are often as taxing, if not occasionally more taxing, as my work life. Consequently, as my work life bled over into my home life, the two began to inundate what little time I set aside for my praxis. Burning the midnight oil at both ends of the candle as it were.

Most disconcertingly of all, the result of all of that was not being able to find strength in my Praxis because of the very things that were giving me cause to seek that strength. Whether I want to admit it or not, its clear that I can’t continue to think of my different ‘lives’ as being totally or even slightly partitioned from each other.



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