Keeping the Big View

Brian picWith any venture of importance comes an initial dream or vision. A big picture forms like wanting to be a teacher. Then comes getting an education in the dreamed of discipline.

That’s just the beginning. Once in the classroom, other contexts require attention as well. For example, there is the institution that a teacher becomes part of. It’s very different from being the lone tropical fish in a bowl on someone’s living room table. Our grandchildren once had a small exotic Betta fish named Nixon, and Nixon enjoyed a modest sized, glass tank, colorfully decked out. Nixon was it. However, in education, it’s a bigger world, with all of the politics, fundraising, and paperwork that go with an institution.Nixon 1

Then there are the difficult students. Some don’t show up, turn in assignments, or make themselves an active part of a course. They might entertain unrealistic hopes of salvaging success. My least favorite questions are, “Do you think I can catch up?” and “Can I still pass?” I generally only say that I can only go by what students turn in, adding a recommendation for withdrawal where that appears best.

Nixon 2As institutional, political, and classroom problems mount, being a teacher can make a teacher wish for a simpler life like Nixon’s. Such, however, is merely fantasy. What is important is keeping the big view. This is the rescue when particular irritations and vexations need to be shrunk, while the big view is enlarged even more. Then, the good times go on, and the not-so-good times—well, they take on a less consuming perspective.