Sunday, 20 April 2014

A Love for Teaching

A passion to teach is something that I have always struggled with.  It was an overarching theme that consistently came up during my teacher education program and the phrase at times scared me as I saw it as a fiery, hot, a creative but restrictive and sometimes blinding paradox.  Don't get me wrong, I understand that for many the "passion" can mean a lot of things, but I, for one, think it is ill defined at best.  I hear a lot of educators, especially newly certified teachers, proclaiming their "passion" to teach, and then within discussions, we find out, that they may have a passion for a subject area, or a passion for children.  Nonetheless, there are times where this so-called passion can be so blinding that it removes the general curiosity or inquisitiveness of our students.  The example I am going to use, is one that is personal and one that is vulnerable as it shares a side of my parenting in which I did wrong.

Soccer or "Football", as it is called almost everywhere else around the world, including the home of my cultural heritage Trinidad and Tobago, has been an important part of my life.  I played soccer since the age of nine and somewhat excelled at it.  As a kid, sports were a huge part of my life. Soccer, Track and Field, and Basketball were sports that I excelled at, and I was always outside practicing any of the sports to get better and to try to be the best.  I was extremely motivated.  So when my oldest son, Nathanial, was about 2, I put him in his first soccer camp at Simon Fraser University. We were outside everyday kicking a ball, and we bonded a lot because of it.  As he got older, I put him in club soccer and he somewhat liked it, but never enjoyed it as I did.  As his father, teacher and coach, I was always talking to him about the positive things he did on the field, and always trying to teach him more and more about the game.  In this excitement and passion, I missed that my son, though he liked the sport, did not love it as I did.  Both sides of my family, and my wife saw it, but I did not.  Whenever they said, I don't know if soccer is the sport for Nathanial, I completely brushed it off, and replied with "No, he is just learning the game" or "If we work on this, and it becomes easier, he will be fine on the field".  At the end of this season (and it was a hard season), Nathanial and I were driving in the car and he turned to me and said "Dad, I don't think I want to play soccer next year".  I did not ask him why, I just said "ok" and kept driving.  He then continued "Dad I like soccer, but it is not fun and do I love it like you do".  I then asked him "So why did you not say anything before"?  His reply broke my heart: "I love spending time with you and you loved soccer so I loved being with you"!  Blinded by my own passion, my son had somewhat sacrificed his happiness because of his love for me.  What an amazing boy, and what a selfish father.  We decided to look into sports he wanted to do, and he chose swimming (something I cannot do) and basketball.  He is so much more happier in the pool, and when he is laughing and making friends and taking chances, it truly is amazing to watch.

I think at times, teacher passion can lead to students disengagement in the classroom.  A teacher that is too passionate about history, may push their students away.  A teacher who is to concerned about their students may protect them by giving them answers, rather than guiding them to through the process and letting them fall. Those ups and downs that students go through are learning experiences within themselves and we as parents and teachers cannot remove those valuable experiences.  I do believe passion has its place in education.  We as teachers have to show our students our passion of learning.  If we model our passion of learning then our students can learn to "love learning".  Consequently, I believe that if anything, I "LOVE" to teach.  I Love being in the classroom and around my students.  Though there is passion, it is more tender and relaxed.  I am compassionate, honest, trusting and understanding.  The classroom brings a warmth, and my interactions show that I am caring, sympathetic and empathetic.  I think that when our passion wavers in the classroom or in the process of education, it is our "LOVE" that brings us back.

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