My first week as an educator has just passed and I must say that I have never wanted a spa day this badly in a very long time. It is easy for students to ignore just how exhausting teaching is. The reality of it is you may only be in class for an hour and a half at a time but teachers spend more time preparing for the lesson and grading papers and tests. I was just sitting on my terrace watching the sunset and feeling as every muscle and neuron in my body hurt with the exertion of the entire week’s exercise of getting to know my classes and getting into the groove on teaching. I thought, what on Earth did I get myself into?
I snap out of my reverie and scanned my Facebook timeline. I realized why I, in fact, I am doing this. Two out of four classes that I am teaching this semester is on a subject called Reading and Historiography, where I am tasked to teach not our traditional concept of history, but how to look at history from different perspectives to understand that history, like commentaries on social events, is written with the historian’s biases and notions of the world around him. This class is aimed at teaching students critical thinking and more importantly , critical analysis of different sources in historical reading. Incidentally, this week, more than ever , we have seen an assault on reason and science. Discussions on social media have become more and more embroiled in profanity and the lack of critical reasoning. People are arguing but nobody seems to be arguing from the point of reason or fact. Fallacious statement after another, our world is becoming more and more entrenched in word wars. Ideology wars. Opinion wars. Wars that ignore reason, evidence, and data, and privilege emotion, sentiment, and perception.
It dawned on me that if my students would have learned something from me this semester regardless of their biases and preconceived notions of today’s society, then i would have done my job in participating in, and contributing to change.
Maybe next time I feel like I want to cry from fatigue, I should remember that this is war. And in a way, I am training the next warriors who will be next in line in defending reason and rhetoric.
This weekend, I’ll lick my wounds and recuperate. The battle against ignorance starts again Monday.