I’m not a parent, but it seems to me that every parent I know experiences a wave of remorse from time to time. Remorse for every crummy thing they ever said or did to their parents while growing up. It’s the type of remorse that only comes from all of a sudden having to deal with that same crap from their own kids.
Recent years have shown me that many teachers experience the educational version of this exact same dynamic. I certainly dealt with it when I was teaching in AmeriCorps, and those guilty feelings pop up the more I research education and teaching. For the most part, I was a good kid who liked school, but there were plenty of times that I made things way too hard on my teachers while growing up.
My interest in this was sparked by reading Tony Danza’s book I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had. Perfect title. Danza talks extensively about how he was your quintessential ‘too cool for school’ student when he was a kid, giving his teachers a hard time and not taking school seriously. He felt like he really got his comeuppance when he became a 1st-year teacher at an urban high school in Philadelphia, where he finally discovered just how difficult it is to teach kids who don’t always want to learn.
Reading that book made me wonder if other educators experienced the same feelings of guilt, which led me to plan an interview series with some close friends and colleagues. I’ll be kicking that off tomorrow with an interview with Dan Frechtling, an old college friend who is currently working in education through the Peace Corps in Liberia. Through this series, I hope to learn more about the connections that these people make between their lives as students and their practice as educators. It’s also a good excuse for me to hear about people’s personal experiences in education, which I can never get enough of. I hope that you will enjoy these interviews as much as I will.
Danza, T. (2012). I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High. New York: Crown Archetype.