Welcome to my Somewhat Tortured Existence

…and I apologize in advance, as the Somewhat Tortured Existence doesn’t look to be going away anytime soon. 

A virus of some sort is ruining my weekend.  Fever of 101.4, headache, absolutely no energy.  During a peak of Tylenol effectiveness this afternoon, I was feeling somewhat okay, and temp was down to 99.something, and I ran to the grocery store for toilet paper and thermometer covers.  I’ve become a thermometer junky.  I take my temperature every hour or two.  It’s equally fascinating and terrifying…I don’t think I’ve had a fever over 100 since college.  Once it’s in the triple digits, what’s to stop it from going dangerously high?  I have to keep taking my temperature to, A, see if it was really a triple-digit number or if I just imagined it, and, B, to make sure it doesn’t hit what I’ve heared was the “ER point,” 104 degrees.  I’ve been taking Tylenol here and there to take the edge off the headache so I can sleep, even though I know letting the fever rage would kill the bug.  I might need a favor, but I also need to sleep.  I’m sipping lots of garlic soup, because garlic is supposed to act like a natural antibiotic.

So, besides a general feeling of “unwell,” I am torturing myself over my job as well.  Last night, fever and all, I dreamed about my classroom all night.  Grr.  I miss the “play as curriculum” philosophy of preschool.  And the element of child choice.  And the idea that we want to have a positive effect on all parts of the child’s life.  And the idea that all parts of the day are learning opportunities.

A lot of this seems to be things I didn’t like about preschool, or things I thought I wanted a change away from.  The day goes faster when I am rush-rush-rush to teach all the lessons, to perform each little skit, to push the knowledge into the children.  The desire to have a positive effect on all parts of their lives meant I had to teach music, art, and gross motor, go on home visits, have parent activity events, and oversee nap time.  That’s in addition to the paperwork all teachers have, and without the benefit of a planning period during the day.

What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not the knowledge in pursuit of the child.  –George Bernard Shaw

I have not once, in the past two weeks of school, seen a first grader in pursuit of knowledge.  I take that back, actually– My student KB asked me, “Do frogs have teeth?”  And because they were supposed to be going to their seat quietly, I initially was going to ignore the question altogether, and simply say, “Go to your seat.”  But, you see, I had KB in preschool, too.  Because of our preschool curriculum and methods that we use, KB knows me as a teacher who loves to help him find out the answers to these questions.  So my inner preschool teacher took over, and I said: “I don’t know.  Do you want me to find out for you?”  But it was rush-rush to your seat, rush-rush to the next task.  In preschool, I would have had the freedom to stop what I was doing, and KB and I could have looked for a book or a website or a United Streaming video to answer his questions.

(Since I don’t use letter-linked symbols for kids’ names anymore, like Moon and Heart and whatnot, I’ll have to use their initials instead.  If I start making up nicknames, I’ll never keep them straight!)

My point is, one moment in 12 days of school of a child in pursuit of knowledge.  And I was “supposed to” squash that moment for the sake of “education.” 

I miss preschool. 

In preschool, our goal is children in pursuit of knowledge.  I think it can be done in older grades, but not as long as our focus is on timelines and standardized scores.  I think taking our focus off those things will actually raise the scores, but it’s a leap of faith that not many teachers (or administrators) are willing to take.  In my situation, in the primary grades our goal is forcing knowledge about reading and math into the children.  I don’t like this goal.

There have been 12 days of school.  Approximately 162 days to go.  Ugh.  And after that, I may or may not have the opportunity to teach preschool again.  And, I feel like maybe I shouldn’t assume that I will want to switch back to preschool after just 12 days.  At the same time, unless I find myself suddenly in support of the system of knowledge pursuing the child, I’m not the person to keep doing this job.  Not good for me, not good for the kids.

I’ve become obsessed with all things homeschooling and unschooling, as you may have realized.  But also, since I may or may not have the opportunity to do that, I’ve become a junky for stories of people who were teachers and then switched career paths.  If I have decades in the working world in front of me, what exactly do I want to do?

Is there anything related to homeschooling that a person can get paid to do?  🙂

I have to do something to pay the bills, of course.  Not to mention, I feel guilty at the thought of not using this college education that I’m still paying for.  But at this moment, I’d rather work retail than teach first grade.  I know someone who used to be a teacher, and now she works in a spice store.  A spice store!  How fun is that?  I know someone else who now works for an insurance company.  Two very different paths away from teaching.

But really, I don’t want to work in retail.  If I can’t raise kids right now, I want to work in an environment where I can nurture them.  I loved working the infant room at a big day care center during my college years.  Wouldn’t quite pay the bills, though!  But I do miss it sometimes.  I wonder how much a lead teacher in an infant/toddler room would make, rather than just a part-time college student working there.  I realize I don’t particularly need my education for that.  Guilt, guilt.  Obviously, teaching preschool with a child-led, open curriculum would be another happy choice for me.

But, ugh, I can’t bear the thought of any of that right now.  The headache is really putting a cramp in my Somewhat Tortured Existence tonight.  I’m off to find the Tylenol.  And some gatorade.  And maybe a little more garlic soup.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mom
    Aug 31, 2009 @ 07:33:45

    It is OK for your temp to go up to 103 even when you feel rotten. The only time you need to stress about it is when it hits that 104 mark. Also it is OK to want the child to pursue learning even in first grade. Now though you may need to spend more time motivating that pursuit. I think you will do fine when you feel better and when you get into the school year a bit more.

    Reply

  2. Becky
    Aug 31, 2009 @ 12:26:29

    You can come be our live-in nanny (and friend!). I’m having issues with day care situation with Isaac and it’s K I L L I N G me! (not literally, but you know what I mean!)

    Reply

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