Lost Causes – Updated

Please take some time to read this beautiful post by a teacher whose blog I have been reading for some time now. Like, go click the link below and read the whole thing right now:

What I Wish I Could Tell Them About Teaching in a Title I School by Love, Teach.

A small part:

I’m also not writing this for proof or validation that I work hard. I don’t have anything to prove about my work ethic or value as a teacher, to myself or anyone else, and this is not meant to initiate a game of “who has it worse.”

[…]

No. I’m writing this because I care about what happens to my students, and other children like them in Title I schools across this country whose needs are not being met, and who are learning harmful lessons from the larger systems in place that are supposed to help them. I am writing this to give others a picture of the type of learning and teaching environments that are being created by these systems.  I’m writing because it’s 2015, and far too many children in this country are still receiving a lower quality education because of the neighborhood into which they were born. (Love, Teach)

I am in a much easier situation than this brave soldier. I do not, and have not ever, taught in a Title I public school.

But I am a teacher too, and so my heart breaks.

She says,

I would tell them that it feels like I have three choices: 1) stay where I am, continue working hard and destroy myself, 2) stay and protect myself by putting in less effort, or 3) leave and abandon a profession and kids I care about. (Ibid)

She’s in an impossible situation.

And yet, and yet, when I was reading her post, something inside me kept saying, “No!”

I don’t want this teacher to leave.

I don’t know who she is, and heaven knows I do not know what she has been through, but she is exactly the type of person — exactly the particular person — we need to stay with our kids, because she loves them. Because she gets it. Because she teaches with everything she’s got, and it’s only in losing your life that you can find it.

At least, I know many of her kids have found it.

Or maybe I feel so strongly about this because I need to believe that it is possible to stay, even under such circumstances.

If teaching drives away all of us who love our kids, by breaking our hearts and breaking our spirits, who will be left?

The teachers that don’t care enough for the injustice of our country’s school systems to affect them? The teachers that don’t try hard enough so that the job seems like the stereotypical “Christmas breaks” and “summers off” vacation? The teachers who print out worksheets every day and show movies so they don’t have to deal with the real intellectual and emotional challenge of encountering young human souls?

Not everyone is called to be a teacher. And not everyone who is called to be a teacher needs to be one forever. Perhaps I am overstepping my bounds.

But we need more teachers like this wonderful young woman who has given the last five years of her life to a seemingly “lost cause” — perhaps it is, indeed, lost for all practical purposes.

A wise lady once told me, “In every crucifixion there is a resurrection.”

Perhaps we are not going to see any clear resurrection for ourselves here.

But even for the lost causes, the most horrific crucifixions, I believe in the parable of the seed that falls to the earth and dies.

Jimmy Stewart’s character says, in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,

I guess this is just another lost cause, Mr. Paine. All you people don’t know about the lost causes. Mr. Paine does. He said once they were the only causes worth fighting for. And he fought for them once, for the only reason that any man ever fights for them. Because of just one plain simple rule: ‘Love thy neighbor.’ (Source. “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”)

It’s worth watching the whole scene. I hope the author of “Love, Teach,” watches this:

Also, this, by Emily Genser at the Huffington Post: “Don’t You Quit”

UPDATE:

The Washington Post is publishing Love, Teach’s beautiful reflection here.

Anyone who loves kids and education needs to read it.

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4 Comments

Filed under Catholicism, Education, Teaching

4 responses to “Lost Causes – Updated

  1. KT

    When it comes to the point of loosing who you are in teaching, your relationships outside of school become a very heavy burden to bare. Husbands, wives, kids, parents, friends, all become concerned with the stress you are putting on yourself, making various comments including, “When’s the old you coming back?” or “Are you seeing a therapist?” or “If you put your students over our relationship anymore, I don’t know if I can stay in this with you,” and you look at yourself in the mirror, proud of your accomplishments yet so lost in who you are as a PERSON, which is an extremely important part of teaching, you know it’s time to step away. I totally hear what you are saying here, and I do agree that schools need teachers like Love, Teach…but sometimes you have to let go of the very thing you love in order to become who you need to be. It is very difficult when you haven’t taught in a Title 1 school to understand the pain, joy, suffering, torment, frustration, victory that all come from the experience. With all due respect, though sometime you have to fight through something instead of quitting, there also comes a time when you have to lay that burden down at the cross and say, “Jesus, you can have it. I trust you.”

    • KT, thanks for your beautiful comment. You are absolutely right. Sometimes the bravest thing to do is to let go, and admit that in the end it is up to Christ to heal us and our students.

      Thanks for your insight and clarification.

    • Lynn

      KT, you have me crying at my desk. THIS is what I have always wanted to say to people when explaining why I left teaching after only two years (four years with all of my student teaching experiences). I’ve never been able to put into words how I felt, but this did it. Perfectly. Thank you. I have days where I feel like I didn’t fight hard enough to make it work, like I didn’t give enough even though I gave 150% of myself all day every day. I still feel guilty about leaving. Jesus is speaking to me through your words, telling me to let go of that guilt that I still carry, even two years later. I wish I could’ve made it work, but I know that I gave it everything I had. Sometimes God’s plan is different from your own, and His is always better!

      • KT

        Lynn–

        I understand completely. I’m glad my words could give you some comfort. We lover of students and education have to stick together! Just because we chose to step away from teaching, does not mean that we gave up. Sometimes stepping away and allowing ourselves the space to get back to who we are is doing much more good in the world than getting through the next school day. You are worthy, chosen, and beautiful!

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