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Words spoken by Clint Eastwood in his role as Dirty Harry, Inspector Harry Callahan, in Magnum Force.

I suppose they can serve as a cautionary, even if the phrasing may not be absolutely on target.

The fact that a person can do something, even do it well, does not mean that he should do it.

If I have become clear on anything as the result of the mini-retreat I took this weekend, it is that.

I may not as yet know what I will do for income after this school year.

I know things I will not do, even though I can.

I know that I have to be able to keep writing - too many have told me they do not want to lose my voice, even thought at times they strongly disagree with me.

I know that in some way what I do has to involve the essential aspects of teaching - challenging, encouraging, prodding, pointing at new possibilities, exploring together.

I may at time fantasize at playing a bigger role in politics or policy.  But a man's got to know his limitations.  I have a voice that can contribute to both, but the value of my words on either come from being rooted in a different world, a different experience.

So long as I can do so with integrity, I think I should try to teach.  And if not in a classroom, then teach through my writing.

The setting will change.  I will almost certainly have to go outside my own comfort zone, which is fine, considering that I challenge my students to go outside theirs.

Now of course the issue changes -  what if no one wants to hire a soon to be 66-year-old as a teacher for a classroom setting?  What then?  

Then I may have to find other ways of teaching.  And there I may find overlap with politics and policy.  Perhaps I will have to invent a new role, perhaps one I have not considered will find me.

I can manage others.  I have done so in business and government.  I can certainly consult.  Again, I have done so in business and government.  I can do both well.  Yet even when I have been lucratively compensated I got less satisfaction that even on my most frustrating days in a classroom.

I get a similar satisfaction when something I write speaks to others.

I need to change.  It was right for me to take the buyout.

In Quaker terminology, I am seeing in some fashion way opening - an indication of how I should explore the future.

My ego would have been boosted had I gotten into the doctoral program at Harvard.  I did not.  That way closed.

I would have been pleased to get the fellowship at Columbia to write a book.  But I can write the book without the fellowship, if I really want to.

It is through teaching, and through the writing that flows from my being a teacher, that I best make a difference.

That is how I am most myself.

The only question now is will I be teacher in a classroom or will the walls disappear and a larger world become my classroom?

My limitation is that I am a teacher.

My gift is that I am a teacher.

The only question is where and how I fulfill that calling.

I think I now know what I want to be when I grow up.


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Comment Preferences

  •  You are a great teacher (6+ / 0-)

    There are so many people that need your help.

    And 66 is not that old.

    I believe something will pop up and you will start a new phase in your life and soon.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 05:49:38 PM PDT

  •  Related musical accompaniment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You may think that. I couldn't possibly comment.-- Francis Urqhart

    by Johnny Q on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 06:04:18 PM PDT

  •  You just reminded me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that I owe you some links for sites which post vacancies abroad.

    Development Executive


    Each of these sites list a range of available posts abroad. They can be for short term (1-3 months) right on up to indefinite postings.  ReliefWeb also has many links to other sites where vacancies are posted.  Quite a few of the positions are in democracy and rule of law related initiatives, which should be right up your alley.

    I keep one eye on these sites, even though I consider myself to be never knows when something which looks interesting will come along...if I see something that might catch your fancy, I'll send it along.

    And with due apologies to Clint Eastwood, I believe that the only limitations that exist are those that we place on ourselves...

    I am a warrior for peace. And not a gentle man... Steve Mason, 1940-2005

    by Wayward Wind on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 06:12:26 PM PDT

    •  thanks, but not relocating (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      am in midst of refinancing house.  Wife enjoys her job and access it gives her as a scholar, we have friends and religious communities to which we are connected.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 06:14:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No need (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I was thinking more along the lines of short term gigs teaching at a seminar or workshop.  Some of them are as short as a week or so...

        There are also posts that involve evaluating a particular project; those generally have a segment where you work at home reviewing documents produced by the project, then field work having a first hand look and interviewing folks, then back home to write the report.  One month gigs with maybe 10-15 days in-country.

        In any event, have a wonderful and productive retirement...

        I am a warrior for peace. And not a gentle man... Steve Mason, 1940-2005

        by Wayward Wind on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 06:49:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  An additional question for senior boomers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LSophia, ER Doc

    What, looking back at the years we have traveled, has been learned that could be passed on?

    Is there wisdom to be gained in such reflection?

    To me, the attempt to write is crucial to transferring what knowledge might really be valuable enough to transmit.

    I would like to see you pursue the process of locating an agent and finding a book publisher.  I think you would be good at it, but more importantly, I think you have something necessary to say.  

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 06:31:27 PM PDT

  •  tutoring? teach homeschooled children? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Have you approached (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    local Community Colleges about Remedial class instruction or 1XX/2XX class instruction as an adjunct?

    your local RSVP chapter, if any

    Aging Services/Agency on Aging for, well, who knows.  Maybe you can deliver for Meals on Wheels and wind up in conversation with someone who has their 'Great American Novel' sitting in the closet.

    United Way, generally.  Perhaps be a contracted grant writer.

    Just some thoughts.

    "Go well through life"-Me (As far as I know)

    by MTmofo on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 07:27:34 PM PDT

  •  Community colleges, after-school programs (0+ / 0-)

    tutoring organizations, such as Sylvan, any university Extension or Continuing Education programs.

    What about minority or immigrant cultural centers?  You can teach writing, English, social media applications, blogging - a whole variety of things.

    Don't forget to use Craigslist to look for "gigs" - I have a lead on my hoped-for next contract from there - and the website is a fantastic place to look for work.

    If e-Learning interests you at all, this might be the time to learn how to design classes taught that way, as well as the major software programs.

    Most of all, GOOD LUCK!  I hope the way opens before you very soon.

  •  A man's got to know his limitations... (0+ / 0-)

    One of my favorite quotes - I use it often. Not as right-wing knee-jerk as "Are you feeling lucky, punk?".

    And it comes from a movie where Harry Callahan is fighting against right-wing vigilante cops.

    But for me, I use this quote for things like home improvement and remodeling. Stuff that where I can get myself in trouble. Now, is this electrical line hot or not? ;-)

    What happens with my career? Not so much trouble...

    Good luck with your future choices. Don't let any perceived "limitations" hold yourself back.

  •  Thanks for sharing your journey (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc

    My university has chosen to cut one-year instructorships (due to state budget cuts) so I will be moving from FT to PT teaching this fall. It helps to read how a gifted teacher like yourself is transitioning. I will be teaching somehow, but need to find a new venue and alternate funding. It's good to be reminded that teaching takes many forms.

  •  when my mother retired she still wanted to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    teach.  She put an ad in the local newspaper saying that she would teach illiterate adults to read and write at no charge.  She had four adults contact her and she worked with them for years.  I remember her telling us that one of the men (she never told us their names) owned a business and he was so excited that he could finally read the newspaper because in the past he had only bought one and propped it in front of him so people would think he knew how to read.

  •  teacherken, you once wrote a diary about (0+ / 0-)

    yourself being dyslexic.

    I remember it well, because I really thought you didn't know what it means to not being able to read for a growing child and having lots of academic difficulties into adulthood with it. I have to admit that when I read your diary - a long time ago - I felt almost offended.  

    But then how could I question you being an experienced  teacher. So, I tried to forget your diary and tried hard to believe in what you said in there, but then I really never did believe it.

    I don't talk about teenage boys, who are C-students, because they are not "reading on grade level". I am talking about men, fathers, workers, men, who have done shit work to survive and know it had something to do with them being fallen through too many cracks in their schooling, mostly not at their own fault.

    If you look for a calling, how about teaching adult men, men who have had difficult lives, didn't fit in, lost their self-worth, gone angry and self-destructive. Adult men, who have troubles reading and writing and managing school and have troubles finding their place in the work force.

    Have you ever met such men, in their thirties and forties? They exist. They would need a teacher (and therapists most probably). One, who understands what it means not to function, because they have given up on themselves being able to write and read properly, those who don't see a reason anymore to try, because they are too old.

    Of course that's not a glamorous job. But it would be an important one. You could try to found a school for adult males over thirtyfive years old, as I am sure you would know how to do that.  

    Just an idea.

    •  Didn't know I was dyslexic until adulthood (0+ / 0-)

      I taught myself to read, but not as most others read.  I grabbed chunks of text and translated it in my head.  It would come out in somewhat different ways

      - not being able to see the mistakes I made in writing/typing unless I was VERY careful

      - really struggling when attempting to learn a language with a different alphabet -  Heberew, Greek Russian

      My niece, who taught special ed, had the same problem.

      I have in 17 years only seen it twice in my students, one of whom is a young lady in one of my current AP classes.  

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 02:40:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am sorry that I have been so sceptical (0+ / 0-)

        about what you have written. I have seen dyslexic children and their needs not being addressed, more often than not, because of other factors, like children migrating from countries and languages in young age, when the reading capabilities in one language hadn't been settled, before being confronted with another language, lack of special reading and writing classes etc.

        I am not familiar with the way kids are educated in special ed in the US, other than that I know, kids are conscious about the fact they are grouped into special ed classes and feel categorized, but I do believe that the reasons why they end up in those classes must be very diverse and the solution to helping them should then consequently also be very different as well, case by case. I just wanted to say, if a dyslexic young lady is able to manage an AP class and is able to function in college etc, that means that her dyslexia isn't disabling anymore.

        I am thinking about those, who remain less functional because of dyslexia or lack of proper education or iinterrupted education in formative years (6 to 15 years I would say).

        Could you imagine to teach an intelligent adult person of forty years how to read, spell and write?

  •  I am grateful for the ideas others are offering (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ree Zen

    there are some paths of which I had some awareness that if I do not get a  more "conventional" teaching gig I am likely to explore.

    I am toying with an idea, but I would have to run it past my wife.

    The AFT is one of the co-sponsors of an effort to try to fix things in the poorest county in W. Virginia.  It is about a 5.5 hour drive from here.  I have driven through it on my way to free dental clinics in the poorest county in Virginia, which is adjacent.

    I wonder if the AFT would like me to teach there for a year -  I would want to come home every weekend, but think I could offer something in my experience as a teacher, and my ability to help kids know I believe in them.

    I should caution that I have NOT raised this issue with my wife.  I was thinking of it as I drove home from Louisa County where I was staying on my retreat this past weekend.

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 02:44:16 AM PDT

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