How do we end up doing what we do? It´s been twenty years since I started teaching. I was hired as a teacher at Yazigi language school in July 1989, and that was my first "serious" job. Why did I take that job? I don´t know. I just loved the idea at the beginning and I loved it even more as time went by. I´d teach as well as translate, and eventually I found out those were activities that made a lot of sense to me, although I considered jornalism, and then dance for a long time. Sometimes I even dream about myself dancing . To this day. Really. I even hear the music in my dreams.
But when did I become a teacher? Hard to tell. As far as I can remember I used to play with a little blackboard, teaching my dolls. Then, when I was about 10, I started tutoring some younger kids from school, after classes. I guess those were my first "victims". I remember the feeling of sharing something I knew with other people and watching them learn. I enjoyed that. After that, I was an intern in a really, I mean really, poor school. Cracked windows,mice, and children close to a state of abandonment, to say the least. Many of my students spent their afternoons and evenings picking garbagge in search of food. Some of them were agressive. I was a teenager and many times I asked myself what on earth was I doing there. Whenever the alarm clock rang in the morning I had that feeling, oh boy, here I go again. It´s just that watching so much misery and not being able to do much to change it starts wearing one out, both mentally and phisically. I was 16. I really don´t know how I was able to make it to the end of the internship, but I did. And the children surprised me with a farewell party, saying I was the best teacher they had ever had. I was ?!!! Me? I´m not sure about that. I think they said that because I was the only one who didn´t run away on the second day of class, and got my mind set on changing a little bit that harsh reality they had every day. My supervisor didn´t approve, but I let them borrow my books, brought songs to sing in class and made them stage an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. They laughed most of the time, but were able to memorize some lines and stay still for a little while. I was a kid teaching kids. The good thing is that we all survived. :-)
I decided to go serious about this teaching thing and went to College. I learned a lot of theories...I remember my Didatics professor saying, while sitting down and reading from her notes, that a teacher should take leadership in class by using different techniques and having a lively attitude ;-). And I remember how my Western Literature professor loved books. She´d let us borrow hers. In fact, she´d bring them in two big boxes and we´d help her unload them from her car. The treasure chests.
I´ve been thinking on a definition of teaching for a long time now. Why do I like it so much? I know why my middle brother likes engineering so much. He´s a logic thinker. He loves calculations. My eldest brother likes to help people feel better, so psychiatry was his path.I guess what I see in teaching is a way of helping people grow and become independent.I like to teach them how to learn.
Jorge Luis Borges (without having a College degree) taught English Literature at the University of Buenos Aires from 1956 to 1966, and his classes were tape recorded by a group of students and after that they were turned into a book. His students used to say he loved teaching so much that he would come to class as a beahgifa, a ring-giver, in an analogy to the way the geats called Beowulf . He shared his gold in so many ways.
Teachers are beahgifas. And I´m very happy to have taken this road.