Sages and Lunatics: Teacher as Identity

This is the first post in a series reflecting on John Spencer's Sages and Lunatics.


A report came out in early May with data showing college students saw teaching as one of the easiest majors to follow and said that teaching was the top profession for "average" people. In the wake of the report, there have been calls for more stringent teacher preparation, making certification tests harder, and encouraging alternative, more "rigorous" methods of teacher certification from the private sector.

Teachers are a strange breed. Heading into the job, we know that there will be long hours, little pay, and unfair expectations put on us and our students. Yet, we walk into the building every day, excited about the possibilities. I never considered teaching a "job." It wasn't just something I did to pay the bills.

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John brings up an interesting idea in Sages: Perhaps we aren't paid to teach. Perhaps we are paid so we can teach. (Actually, Brad the Philosopher brings it up, but John wrote it down).

I've written on this before, but even being out of the classroom for more than a year, I still jump to say I'm a teacher when asked what I do. It's in my heart. I think about schools, curriculum, students, and instruction all. The. Time.

Is it possible that you are paid so that you can teach? In other words, you are a teacher. It’s who you are. You can't avoid it.

I got to thinking, would you still teach if you didn't get paid? In other words, if you could do nothing but teach while not worrying about bills or other financial constraints, would you commit your life to doing so?


Teachers - whether you know it or not - you are some of the most trusted people in society. Parents send their children to you every day for instruction, for nurturing, for support, and they do so often without ever meeting you face to face. Aside from the obvious problems with the reality of parent engagement, this is an incredible burden. I'm also left wondering how schools, how communities, would change if we look at teaching from the point of view of the trust they've put into us.

Yet we take this burden without question. We welcome the happy, the sad, the hungry, and the lonely without question. In our rooms, we see the children and we pour our hearts into them. The time we invest with each child every year is second only to their parents...how are you spending that time? Teaching isn't a job. Teaching is a lifestyle.


My name is Brian E. Bennett, and I'm a teacher.

Fingerprint icon by Yaroslav Samoilov on The Noun Project CC BY 3.0

One thought on “Sages and Lunatics: Teacher as Identity

  1. […] written at length about the unique struggle teachers go through when it comes to our work. Our community is […]

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