My friend José asked if I had ever considered becoming a school teacher. I replied that I once seriously thought of doing so, but after much analysis and brainstorming, decided against it. José said he had given public education serious consideration too. He came to a similar conclusion.
José and I have a serious “addiction”–the love of learning. We read nearly everything we can get our hands on. We both love to watch documentaries and DIY videos on YouTube. We can even become engrossed in technical manuals just because they contain information about how things work. Both of us have had this addiction since early childhood.
We both ultimately rejected teaching in K through 12 education due to a few factors that would seriously complicate such a career choice. The main one being the toxic popular opinion that LGBT people should not teach children, especially in primary school settings. Neither José nor I had the desire, means, nor social network to become public education mavericks. It takes a particular type of personality to be trailblazers while, at the same time, effectively performing one’s job in any field. School boards are rather timid when it comes to dealing with the LGBT community. They were much more reticent in this matter in the not so distant past.
Both of us have given guest lectures in classroom settings. Hopefully the pupils enjoyed our talks as much as we loved speaking to them. I still fondly remember the last lecture I shared. I spoke at a convocation of fifth and sixth grade pupils at our town’s Catholic grade school. I was one of the guests who addressed the topic of world religions. My topic was Tibetan Buddhism. All of us speakers had positive experiences. Everybody–pupils, teachers, and guest speakers–learned something during the event.
All through life, I’ve wanted to know about as many things about the world around me as possible–particularly regarding topics I deeply care about. Many times, learning about one topic led to curiosity about a related subject. There are many “rabbit holes” a person can fall into. Some of the “rabbit holes” have been life-altering. I’m certain there are more of them waiting for people to explore.
As I’ve aged, one thing I’m absolutely certain about is that the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom expands my world. We are unaware about many various peoples, creatures, plants, places, ideologies, medicinal properties, mental properties, etcetera that exist in the world. When we gain knowledge, we liberate ourselves from ignorance. Knowledge is liberating in that it opens the mind to fresh options and enables progress. Education is the most powerful tool on Earth.
“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.”–Robert Frost
I take Frost’s statement to mean open-mindedness and patience being qualities to help us learn. It’s tempting to reject unfamiliar concepts out of hand. Some topics contain uncomfortable data while others touch on social taboos. In my mind, scary topics are not prohibitions; they are dares.
Meanwhile, all around the world there are millions of people like José and me. We have no ulterior motive to use knowledge to gain plolitical power and extravagant wealth. We’re not interested in “owning” others regarding popular controversies even though we can rationally support our own opinions. There is a subset of people in society who derive as much enjoyment from learning as we do from food and drink–perhaps more so. This desire comes from the “soul” and is not forced nor unnatural.
Philosophers and wisdom teachers throughout the ages have taught that education has no ending. We may pass our school exams and graduate from high school and college, but formal education is only the beginning. When we continue to pay attention and feed our hunger to learn, all of the experiences of our lives from birth to death are a continuum of learning.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Leonardo da Vinci. “Knowledge of the past and of the places of the Earth is the ornament and food of the mind of man.”