Saturday, June 13, 2009


“An OCD Teacher?”

If I went to a therapist, I might be declared a victim of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, for the truth is that I am obsessed with teaching. Today is graduation day for our school, the end of a long and exhausting year of teaching, a day when sane teachers are sprawling on couches in an attempt to begin the recovery and restoration process, and what am I doing? Thinking about my curriculum for next year! I’m lounging on my couch all right, but I have my laptop with me and I’m reading an essay by Robert Louis Stevenson, wondering if it might be a good choice for 9th graders next year. I taught my last class of the year two days ago, and I’m already thinking about September. A therapist might suggest that I resist this obsession with teaching. She might suggest taking some time off to reenergize myself – to get completely away from my work so I can come back to it, maybe in July, with fresh energy. She might encourage me to plunge into other interesting pursuits, like bicycling, reading, hiking, even drawing or painting. In other words, she might say (though in a more polite way) “Get a life.” However, I have to confess that my response would probably be something like this: “I already have a life, and it’s a vastly fascinating one. I am involved in the fine art and science of teaching, and I find it so absorbing that I have time for little else. It’s like a fascinating hobby for me. It’s not a job; it’s a passion. Some men are passionate about cars, or baseball, or hunting; I’m passionate about teaching. I can’t get enough of it. It’s the end of the school year, and I’m sad because I’ll miss it. What would a guy who was fervent about cars do if he couldn’t work with his beloved machines for three whole months? What would a baseball nut do if he couldn’t see a game for more than 90 days? I’m sad that my school is closed for the summer, but if I can’t teach again until September, at least I can plan, devise, tinker, study, revise, write in this journal, and plan some more. That’s how I’ll have a fulfilling and inspiring summer. The beach is beautiful and riding my bike will be a pleasure, but summer is my time to rebuild myself as a teacher. If that’s OCD, then I’ll take it. There are worse illnesses I could have -- and I happen to enjoy this one.”

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