June 19th, 2006

accordion santa

A conversation with my mother

One of my mother's two dogs, a Doberman named Zeeman, died a couple of weeks ago, which I only learned of on Saturday. Yesterday she was telling me a little bit more about it and we had the following conversation:

Mom: "But I have to say, Zeeman is the reason that I'm not afraid of dogs any more."

Me: "Mmm-hmm."

Mom: "And you too! I mean, not to say that we aren't still afraid of dogs ..."

Me: "Right, but other than that."

Mom: "Right."

(When I was a kid, me and my mom were walking down the main street in my home town and a dog came out and bit her on the leg, and we've both been afraid of strange dogs since then. After that we continued to a friend's house, where we called my dad to come get us and ate cherries.)

The Plan

Now that I've turned 34, I have a (somewhat flexible) goal for the next year: figure out whether I want to switch careers and what I would need to do to do so.

Specifically the career I'm thinking of switching to is a public high school math teacher.

The main advantages of my current job are: I'm good at it and generally don't find it to be too difficult, it pays pretty well, and since I work from home I have a lot of flexibility as to where I can live (basically anywhere with an Internet connection). The main disadvantages are that it's not very exciting and there aren't any obvious ways to change the job so that it will be more interesting. It is basically a job that puts food on the table, which is not to be sniffed at, but in terms of any sort of deep fulfillment I generally have to look elsewhere in my life.

While I was taking time of from college I did some substitute teaching at the high school I graduated from and I really enjoyed it. I hope that I would be good at it and I think I would be making more of a contribution to society.

In some ways this is a good time to be going into teaching. According to my father, the last big wave of teacher-hiring went on in the seventies; when he started working as a teacher almost all of the other teachers were people in their twenties. Now all those teachers are starting to reach retirement age, and in ten years almost all of them will no longer be working. (My dad says that it is exciting and fun to work with a lot of new, young teachers.)

On the downside, with the rise of testing and 'no child left behind' it isn't one of the more pleasant times to be a teacher. Statewide standardized testing generally also requires a statewide standardized curriculum, itself generally a bad thing. In fact, for these reasons right now I really don't think I would want to teach in Massachusetts, as their educational policy is particularly bad. (I would like to stay in New England, though, mainly so I can stay close to the rest of my family, but also because I just like it here.)

So this week I'd like to look at the policies of the New England states to see which ones are least intrusive. Then I'll see what the requirements are to become a teacher and will try to set up a timetable of some kind.

Some of y'all have more knowledge about this stuff than I; any pointers or suggestions are welcomed!