Accepting my Teaching Vocation

The OCL4Ed mOOC asked the question:

“If you’re an educator, why did you join the vocation or related profession?”

This post attempts to answer that question, although for me the answer is not simple. I joined the teaching profession without a clear intent to do so, but I have had a teaching vocation since I was in Primary School.

I initially joined the profession in order to earn money while I waited to discover what I wanted to do in my life, and my teaching career began without any formal training. Soon after this beginning, however, I recognised the value and need to educate myself about education in order to optimise the effectiveness of my teaching. This led to my first foray into formal studies in Education. I continued to teach for many years as it enabled me to travel and live in interesting countries while I tried to work out what I really wanted to do. While I knew that I was passionate about facilitating the learning of others, I did not want to join what I saw as the ‘family business’ since my parents and many of my aunts and uncles were educators of some description, predominantly working in schools or universities.

Due in part, perhaps, to my family background, I have always valued education, and had an interest in helping others to learn. From playing school with my siblings, to being assigned to help my classmates in class in both primary and high school, to coaching sports teams as an adult, I have had informal connections to teaching since I was very young. The desire to forge my own path and avoid following in my parents’ footsteps, however, was equally strong and I actively resisted becoming a fully qualified, formal member of the teaching profession. Because teaching was my job, however, I actively engaged in informal learning, read literature, attended seminars and conferences, was self-reflective, and sought peer-review and feedback. I simply did not seek qualifications which would enable my registration as a teacher in Australian schools.

It was through my involvement in politics that I surrendered to my vocation and chose to accept my fate and commit to being a member of the teaching profession. When a soccer teammate who knew I was an active member of a political party asked me, “who should I vote for?”, my instinct, which I followed was to ask her what was important to her and to then give her a short summary of where the different parties stood in relation to those issues.  Another teammate, overhearing the conversation, and a supporter of the same party as myself, said to me, “She just wants to know who to vote for” and then turned to our teammate and told her to vote for our party. This very simple event brought home to me how strongly I feel about people making informed decisions for themselves, and my driving need to help people learn, know and understand things so that they can. I embraced my teaching vocation, enrolled in formal studies  the next week, and have been committed to the profession and vocation ever since.