Thursday 15 December 2011

Meandering on my calling

For a long time now, this thought and related thoughts have been filling my mindscape and I haven't been able to arrive at any conclusion. Teaching is a noble profession. It is indeed . . . until I began officially teaching at a University. Now, this is ambition and calling for me. I had always imagined that if one has likes to do something and pursues the same, it will be fulfilling, wonderful and all that jazz. But nurturing an ambition and actually pursuing it are two different paths. Hope you get what I mean. I had assumed that since I like being with young adults and also liked literature, teaching would be the ideal occupation, if I may say so. Well, the whole world also thinks that way. And, teachers are always looked upon by almost everyone. This rosy bubble coupled along with my desire made me a teacher. I have also shared many tales of my occupation as a teacher in this blog, which many of you have read and commented.

But somewhere down the line, I realise that possessing a love for something alone does not keep you going. The practicalities of the real situation sometimes wriggle the initial enthusiasm and drain it drip by drip. I had always presumed that the industry of education is quite a sane place. Time and again, I have been proved wrong. Back-stabbing fellow teachers, cut-throat competition for popularity, messing up marks in favour of a favourite student, and many more tales fill the education industry. Now, when I think back, I seem like a fool who thought that all was fair in the world of teachers and students. I wonder about my calling. But mind you, leaving a job which pays a salary at the end of the month, is not easy. When lovely quotes which says, If you don't like your job, QUIT, I wonder. I wonder whether it is as easy as the quote makes it out to be.

Another thought that niggles me while on this profession is drawing the line between being emotional and professional. I always tend to relate at a personal level with most of my students. I laugh when they are happy, pat when they are down in the dumps, nod when they walk with their love interest and advice when they want me to. But this attachment always sends wrong signals to the students. They tend to assume that if I am close to them, then that will earn them more marks. But I just cannot give marks freely. I give them the marks they deserve and that strains the relationship. The student assumes that I have two sides to me: the friendly one and the that of a strict teacher. And, off she/he goes about telling everyone how I gave him/her very low marks. Phew!! What do I do?

Only this job gives you two months holidays and you can come home early, blah, blah. Well, I do accept that fact but in the term days, the amount of pressure and stress that is loaded on the individual is enormous. The students' faces always clears many a cloud and gloom - Well, I accept that as well but how long? Sometimes, I think that it is quite early to arrive at such thoughts as this post carries. I have been teaching here only for a year and before this I was in a dreamy residential school called Rishi Valley, which I blame for my higher standards of expectation.

I also understand that wherever humans are present, there is bound to be jealousy, competition et al, but then enlightened souls in the education department ought to be different from the others (so I thought/still think).

Sighs. Such a long post. Tell me, what do you think.

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet


  1. Oh my, Mrs. Sus, you drew all the words from my mouth. Are we on the same boat? I sure hope not. I've been feeling rather disillusioned lately. Though I still love my profession and wouldn't trade it for anything (hmmm well except for a travel writing job with free trips abroad, haha!), I just don't feel motivated in all the other aspects of the job. :=(

  2. Dear Susan,

    I worked at a number of different schools for years. Later when my kids became old enough to attend school I had a very hard time to send them there. Why? Because I had experienced all the things one shouldn't know as a parent. So I totally understand your predicament although I don't have a solution.

  3. I know it is a tough world out there...well, I cannot say much about this as I don't know about this profession. Hope you sort it out.

  4. Susan, let me tell you, it is the same with my 'noble' profession, too. You'd think doctors were these paragons of virtue and humility because they have a better understanding of how fleeting life is and therefore, how trivial things like popularity and jealousy are. But no, I have also seen a lot of intra and interdepartmental politics and back-stabbing amongst our senior professors, the kind you've described.

    It would seem there is no getting away from this no matter what your occupation.

    And where you deal with drawing the line with students, we face the same dilemma with patients. It will not do to get too emotionally involved with them, it interferes with how we can help them professionally.

    One struggles with these multiplying dilemmas all one's life and when we deal with people all the time, instead of objects, things become more complicated.

    The only advice I feel I can give is the one Jawaharlal Nehru gave his daughter once. "Always live your life such that you listen to the voice of your conscience and have no secrets that will shame you in the eyes of God."

    You are one of the most honest and diligent people I know. I am very proud of you, as always. :) Good luck, dear Susan.

  5. The things we think we want or desire sometimes end up being what we don't need for a happy existence. That being said, look out at the others who behave childishly and forget them! They are not worth the energy. If you truly still want to stay where you are then make it work! If not? Take a leap and see what is out there.

    Cheers A

  6. Dear Susan, a wonderful post that I can relate to as I am these days very disillusioned with my own work, for many reasons.
    The long commute is the main culprit, but also something has changed and I no longer find the joy in my work as I used to. It is time for me to move on.
    I am contemplating a lot about getting a new job, but as you point out, that is not easy in this economical crises and we should be lucky we have a work to go to. At times I even contemplate to start doing something completely new, but that is crazy too.;)
    If I can say something, after have been working for almost 25 years, I can only tell you that rarely is our work and our profession perfect. It goes through stages - at times we feel good about what we do, at times less good. Only a few lucky ones get to do what they really like. Unless we are workaholics or married to our job, there will be times when we do not feel to good about what we do. I think that is in a way also a positive thing as that means we grow and change.
    Do not despair but rather just carry on with your teaching the way you believe, whether you get emotional or not. Some students I am sure appreciate it. And also give yourself some time to gain experience, as you just started to work.;)
    Have a great end of the week dear friend.;)

  7. That was a very honest post. I guess sticking to Nehru's words as suggested by Tangled up in blue in the previous comments is more ideal.

  8. My mom and her sisters have been teaching for almost 30 years now! I learnt that the academic and the seemingly pious space of an educational institution is not all holy - there's politics - with teachers, parents, administration, management and what not - and even sometimes a factory like machine competitiveness - there is really no such thing as a clean job - passion and occupation for the sake of passion and occupation - in the end we all compromise because the bills need to be paid and lifestyles need to be maintained. I stopped looking at the job I did as the ambition of life a while ago _ i try to look at jobs as a means to a greater end - to make life a little more worthwhile - the only saving grace should be that your job should offer you dignity and self respect - we all learn to compromise on everything else.

    (wow a very long comment from me!)

  9. a very very must read for all those dreamy eyed grads

    i told my friend...dont mix business with pleasure. converting ur passion into livelihood is dangerous

  10. Its normal to go through "bleh" times in any profession. Teaching is truly a profession that tugs us in many directions. The students, the parents and the staff we interact with daily all pulling in different levels. I feel your frustration and hope you are able to come to terms and make the right decision for you.

  11. Hmm.. weight the other options you have. I know.. sounds very stupid. But seriously.. consider it.

  12. For some few years I taught music, specifically violin. I played good, but did not teach well. Because I had no patience with those without a strong desire to learn, work, and become proficient.

    If not serious, don't come to me.--grin!

    As a result, my Master Degree in Music Ed, now sits quite lonely, in a dresser drawer, its only companions, a dozen pair of really nice socks!

    Girl, you are one who shares so good your feelings, and thoughts about your life, and I sure like that about you.

    I believe some teachers get into a routine which year after year sees them through a career, not unblessed, with perks of vacations, insurance for medical, and pensions.

    (I'll bet your students love are there for them, not for your fellow staff members!)

    Getting sleepy, and write stupidly when that happens. Good night Susan Deborah.

  13. I started to write a comment yesterday, got interrupted and never returned. Sorry.

    I taught University for about 11 years. It's a tough job, in spite of the joy of seeing students develop their knowledge and skills. And I know it's often too hard to overlook the crazy things that go on in academia. I must confess, I left in disillusion.

    But, your're young. You'll probably find that almost all jobs have some aspect that's hard to live with.

    I know you'll make the right decision of staying or leaving. I suspect the institution will be the loser if you leave. But it's important to work in an environment where you feel comfortable and where you can thrive.

    You know I wish you the best.

  14. In our careers we have days that are good, and those that are bad. There are things about are jobs we love, and those things we detest. People we meet at work we admire, and those we detest ...

    To you i want you to remember just one thing today:
    A teacher affects eternity, he can never tell where his influence stops - Henry Adam

    Your legacy will go on and on. For the generations you effect, i say thank you.

  15. Age:

    I never imagined that you would be facing the same predicament as I am. Even I am inclined to think about writing but then, I don't think I can qualify as a writer just because I write blogs.


    Solutions can never arise for a situation like this but I'm glad you hear me out. Thanks, Elizabeth.

  16. Janu:

    Thanks Janu for your warm words.


    I cannot but be amazed at your thoughts and observations. Karishma, you are one in a million and may your tribe increase. So young but so thoughtful and wise. I wonder how I was at your age - Ah, don't want to think :)

  17. AG:

    I should make it work, I reckon. For some years, atleast.
    Thanks AG for your wisdom.


    I am surprised to read that there are many like me who have been disillusioned by the system.
    Thanks for your words of encouragement, Zuzana. truly appreciated.
    Have a lovely weekend, as always :)

  18. Siju:

    Welcome here and thanks for writing a comment. And, Karishma, is truly a wonder soul, without doubt.


    Compromise is the word!! Always, we end up compromising.

  19. Jon:

    Welcome after a long time.

    Why is it dangerous, John? I see many who are successful at it.


    The 'bleh' times don't seem to pass away. maybe it is time that I move from the 'bleh' times :)
    Have a good day.

  20. Sameera:



    Thanks for sharing your wise thoughts, Steve. Sometimes it does get quite stifling.
    And you were not writing stupidly. I love you dear wise soul, Steve.

  21. Myrna:

    11 years at Uni?!?!? Wow! Myrna! That's another dimension, I didn't know. What did you teach? I'm glad you held on for 11 years but I'm only a year old and already disillusioned.

    Seeking and listening to the inner self.

    Thanks Myrna for that wonderful comment.


    Your words just made me smile and left me warm and overwhelmed. Thanks is all that I can manage to say.
    Big hugs, Larry. You've made my day.

  22. Thank you, dear Susan! :) And I am certain that you were!

  23. Ashwini:

    Your words are definitely like sun on a cloudy day. Thanks for that.


    :) Hugs.

  24. Well, this post left me dumbfounded. The reason is that I am pursuing my MA in English Lit and preparing for NET alongside. So, kind of scared.

  25. Dear Suraj:

    Just go on. Everything what is bound to happen will happen :)

    Best wishes.



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