It’s all about money.
That’s what my mom taught me. She’s taught me that if I can get an SAT score in the 99th percentile and a GPA that puts me in the top 10% of my class, I should be a doctor or a lawyer. She’s instructed me that success is measured by my income, the costliness of my car, and the economic value of my home. She’s told me that she will only be proud of me if I can surpass her and my father in the amount of money I make.
Here’s a secret: I feel safer at school than I feel at home. Even considering the tragic shootings that have happened recently, I never get hit or yelled at when I’m in the classroom. When I’m in school, all I have to think about is learning and pursuing my passion; I don’t have to worry about hiding my essays on homosexuality or how to hide myself if things get violent. I’ve maybe learned more from my teachers than I have from my own mother.
I’ll never be able to repay my teachers for what they’ve done for me. One of my English teachers made me love writing and reading; she made me giddy to get started on a paper about Odysseus’s womanizing qualities and ecstatic to write an essay about An Education. One of my Latin teachers caused me to realize the importance of education and how everyone needs to value learning for learning’s sake, as opposed to other shallow measures of success. One of my history teachers taught me that what’s happened to me in the past – whether it be bullying, abuse, or anything else – doesn’t define who I am today and that I can take my life in whatever direction I choose.
To me, teaching isn’t about money. It’s about passion. It’s about dedicating your life to making a difference. It’s about fighting for an educational system that doesn’t value you enough. It’s not like teaching is an easy job either. Myriad teachers work extra hours to help students, prepare lesson plans, and perform other additional tasks not required of them by their basic job duties. They have to put up with students who have bad attitudes and don’t show up to class, as well as parents who constantly harass them about their children’s grades. They have to deal with people who are dismissive of them – people who act like the modest salary earned by most teachers indicates some form of inherent inadequacy.
But I don’t care about any of that. To teach is to change someone’s life. To teach is to change several lives. It’s about improving society, one mind at a time. I don’t know for sure if I want to be a teacher yet, but it’s a career I’m looking into, as I love tutoring and helping my peers in other ways.
And, no matter what my mom tells me, I do not need money to make a difference.