During one of those all too frequent moments where I was waxing poetic about some prior exploit, a student asked me if I regretted my decision to become a teacher. As these queries often appear in a flurry, I was not surprised when the topic turned to my decision to live in Minnesota rather than my childhood haunts of New York City and Southern California. I suppose that if I grew up in a midwest suburb and my teacher was from a heavily publicized city and appeared surprisingly competent, I might wonder why he chose to stick around rather than pursue what seemed to be a more exciting life. Were I was asked to reflect on these choices twenty years ago you might here a hint regret, but today I am rather sanguine when it comes to my plight. Teaching has been good to me. While it is very hard work, emotionally demanding and can be painfully redundant, the rewards far outweigh the costs. There is a real purpose to my life, as I have the opportunity to share my deep passion for how scientists do science. While I love to lecture about all things ecology, evolution and molecular biology, my real creativity is borne from those rare moments when I can frame an exploration that fosters naive discovery.
As "Teacher's Week" came and went, I couldn't help but reflect on the good fortune that led me into this field. Working as a field ecologist for a university team on St. George Island, Alaska, I was also charged with helping a middle-school teacher on sabbatical to fit in with our group. Not being much of a people person, this was quite a daunting task; yet there was something about the man that seemed remarkable to me. Dwight was not only a middle-school science teacher, but he was an amateur photographer who chose to spend his free minutes documenting life with a camera. After nearly two weeks of collaboration and training Dwight and I parted company, but he left a little something behind. I think it was the midnight dinners and frosty beers that loosened our tongues, and resulted in philosophical chats about living a quality life. This teacher loved his work, believed he was doing good, and enjoyed the small things like so few seem to do. It's been nearly 30 years since I last talked to the man, but I sincerely believe that the teacher I am today can be attributed to my own naive discovery about a guy and his career that evoked passion and a love for good work.
©2000-2016 BTLeventhal.com / Bruce & Tamy Leventhal. All rights reserved. No image on this site may be used without permission.