Thursday, October 28, 2004

Teaching - The Noble Profession

My wife is a teacher. She's a teacher by nature, and by choice. For eight years she taught as a special resource teacher, mostly at the junior high level. Some might say this automatically qualifies her for canonization. I might say, been there, done that.

Even when she was no longer teaching, she worked in education for a once-prominent publisher. When we started having kids, she gave up on work outside the home, and began to concentrate on working in the home. Today she's a teacher again.

I always knew that teachers put in a lot of planning time away from the classroom. This is, perhaps, why I never considered teaching as a career path. I am not a good natural preparer. My idea of preparation is finding matching socks in the morning, even if they don't necessarily match my clothes. My wife compensates for this by buying me two colors of socks; white and black. Hard to miss with white or black. Anyway, watching my wife go through her preparations for teaching only serves to justify my lack of a teaching credential.

Much of her preparation involves our computer. We have a pretty decent home computer in our family room. This is the machine on which I've done a few Tim Allen-like adjustments, and it roars. It may look like an eMachine, but this baby has teeth. Occasionally I get visitation rights.

Since we homeschool, my wife networks. I don't mean mere social networking in the sense of staying in touch with other teachers and sharing ideas. I mean networking in the Cisco sense where our computer communicates directly with about a jillion other computers around the world and swaps materials back and forth. Some people have eclectic music collections on their CDs. We have out-of-print-but-still-useful workbooks, textbooks, teacher guides, student guides, Tibetan Sherpa guides, you name it. Our computer has enough material on it to open a library.

My wife is also big on themes in her teaching, especially since our girls are both so young. Harry Potter is our theme right now, and my wife is compiling literally books full of information. She's creating a science curriculum based on the boy wizard which she will print and bind for the girls to use while Daddy spends next week out of town. I'll be attending a Macromedia conference. I'll bet they don't have a Harry Potter science curriculum! By the time I return the girls will both know more than I ever did about frogs, unicorns, and thestrals. Among other things.

I sometimes say Daddy gets taught just as much as the girls. Daddy has already sacrificed for this current theme. The girls receive letters via owl post in which they are given lessons from various Hogwarts teachers. Snape, of course, being the most dangerous. One day on my arrival home after work, I was accosted by two very excited little girls who needed a taste tester for their Hydra Vomit potion.

Excuse me? Did you say Hydra Vomit?

Yes we did, Daddy! And you get to taste it!

So I did. It was actually pretty good with carrots, but looked like an old practical joke my high school choir teacher once told us about involving a thermos, a concoction of vegetable soup, cottage cheese, and oatmeal, and a movie theater balcony. You don't want to know.

This is the sum total of my contributions to date in the education of my little sweeties. Taste Tester of Dubious Delights. Of course, I take my job seriously. When they do these lessons, they're supposed to interview me and write down my answers. "What do you think of the name?" "It's gross." This sends them into peals of laughter and makes the interview last three times as long as it might otherwise.

I suffer for my family. But what dedicated Dad doesn't?

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