Leaving Teaching

I am leaving teaching soon, and it is not to say I don’t love it anymore. I have loved teaching since Day One of entering the classroom, with a hand holding a broken piece of chalk and a heart full of fire, and now three years later, I still do.

To say I don’t love teaching anymore couldn’t be further from the truth.

Nonetheless, I am leaving teaching soon, and it’s because I aim to be a student again first. My part-time experience in the practice of psychology this past 6 months has been enlightening to say the least, and the main thing it’s taught me is that I still have so much to learn. And I mean, so, SO much.

Psychology is not an easy thing to practice, much more teach; it’s not something you can just read out of a book and parrot to students. If you want to be able to teach it effectively, you have to truly know it first, and this knowledge has to be beyond theory. And if you want to truly know psychology, you’ll have to climb down from the ivory tower and get into the thick of it. You’ll have to immerse yourself beyond the neat black and white of textbooks and into the gray areas of real life, into the messy, messy reality of the human mind and human behavior as encountered out there, in the real world.

Learn first, then teach. Thus is my mantra.

And at this point in my career, I intend to learn beyond the textbook and straight from the field, person-to-person. The road’s going to be far less structured and far more convoluted than it is in the academe, but I know I have to go through this first, and now is the time to do it.

The only way round is through.” — Robert Frost

And so I am leaving teaching, at least for now. I’ve had the best time meeting all the young people I’ve had the privilege of teaching, young people with whom I’ve shared laughter both inside and outside the classroom, young people who’ve come to be more than my students, but my friends. Thank you to each of you, it’s been my pleasure and an honor to have crossed paths with you and to have exchanged thoughts with you about what it means to be human, which is what I think psychology is ultimately all about.

I am leaving teaching soon, but I will not be ceasing to teach, in my own little way. In the field I’m in, there are kids I look after, and from time to time I get to teach them too, although not in the way of the academic world. There is such a sense of fulfillment that springs from witnessing a young person learn, about himself, about others, about life itself—and this will not be lost on me. I will be continuing to teach, beyond the four walls of the classroom now, and I intend to make the most out of it.

So for now, goodbye, dear academia. Until we meet again. ♦

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