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Diary of a Student Teacher: Quitting, Continued

01/02/2014 04:19 pm ET | Updated Mar 02, 2014
  • Matt Bieber Author of Life in the Loop: Essays on OCD. He writes about obsessions, personal and political, at mattbieber.net.

Most of my friends hated my last blog post.

They thought that I was calling into question the value of practical knowledge, even condemning our whole school system. (No! My parents are teachers, and I have great respect for what they do.)

"It's funny," I said. "I don't feel like you misread what I wrote, but I still feel misread."

Josh: "Maybe you misspoke."

Maybe I did. So, to be clear: I'm not saying teaching is bad, or that curriculum is useless. I'm saying we often overestimate the importance of kids learning particular things (especially because most of them don't learn everything that's on offer).

During my teacher prep program, I talked with a veteran teacher about this. His view blew me back: "They won't get it all. But that's okay; we're offering a buffet, and they'll like some of it and maybe run with it."

He was right, and I think part of me found that unsettling -- that my work was in service to our kids' potential, but in the vaguest possible way.

True, some of what we were teaching was going to be genuinely useful to them, but a lot of the rest of it was going to be a kind of experiment, a 12-year tasting menu in their preferences and predilections. Which is fine, of course. More than fine, in fact -- it's wonderful. But at the moment, I feel like I have a lot of my own preferences and predilections to explore.