I've had some stuff on my mind quite a bit lately that I still haven't been able to sort all the way, and as I'm not feeling 100% at the moment, I'm probably not going to be able to puzzle through much of it just yet, either.
But I had my DVR appointment with Nadine today, and it brought to a head a lot of what I've been muddling with.
DVR, just to give catch-up here, is the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. I got on board with them back in 2003, after my brief but colorful visit to the Funny Farm. DVR's purpose is to get people who are disabled in one way or another back into shape to be able to be self-sufficient and self-supporting - something I definitely needed.
Unlike most social service agencies, DVR is funded through the Department of Education, which makes them a more flexible agency and one that can provide a number of services not available elsewhere. They also have a particular interest, naturally, in education, so a large portion of their clients are assisted in - you guessed it - getting back to school.
That's how I ended up on the path that's brought me where I am now.
I'm a 4.07 student. I'm a member of several honor societies, and have been on the Dean's List at my junior college, the four-year school I'm at now, and the National Dean's List. Hoorah, bells and whistles, yadda yadda.
I'm scheduled to graduate May of next year.
And honestly - I'm still not sure What I'm Going to Be When I Grow Up.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher. I remember that one of my favorite possessions was an old school desk that was left behind in the garage of the house that I lived in briefly with my mom and stepdad. I used to make lesson plans from my favorite books and television shows. Two of my favorite book series' were Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables - both of which feature main characters who eventually become school teachers.
The problem with this childhood goal - being a teacher - is that it's been based on a model of education that hasn't existed in this or any other country in almost a century. It used to be that all one had to do was go to a teaching college for a few years, and then they'd turn you loose with a classroom full of children - and you were pretty much on your own after that. Aside from the few times a School Superintendent might come for a visit, assuming you performed adequately enough to get kids in and out of your classroom with a dose of Reading, Writing and 'Rithmetic, you were assumed to be competent and let to do as you would.
It's not like that anymore.
I probably would have been a good teacher in those days. Given a few tools and a minimum of supervision, I've been able to accomplish a fair few miraculous things in my time with kids.
I originally dropped out of college eons ago because I knew that my stubborn inability to mesh with 'systems' and fit into 'models' was incompatible with the way education is run now. When I went back to school with DVR's help, I didn't originally go back with the intent to teach, either. At that point, just getting enough education to get me out of dead-end retail and office environments was my only real goal. I didn't have sufficient belief in my own abilities to aim for anything other than that. I thought, hey, I'll get a certificate for Graphic Design and get some simple job doing layout somewhere. Play with some shiny toys and call that good.
I went back to school. I did surprisingly well - but realized I wasn't as creative in the design kind of way as I'd thought I might be. I saw kids half my age pulling stuff out of their ears that I wouldn't have been able to do myself, and I knew that wasn't the right direction.
I rediscovered my love of words again, and thought, okay, maybe Journalism then. I changed my education plan at DVR - but within just a few months, I started to have that nagging idea come back to me. Teaching. Realizing that the difference between how good one class was compared to another class was not in the subject as often as it was in the person teaching it. Coming back again to that idea that, while I'm not as gifted as many of my friends, I've been able to help other people refine their own abilities and grow stronger in them. The old adage, "Those who can, do: those who can't, teach" isn't really the derogative that it's meant to be when looked at in the right kind of light. I may not have the same kind of talent as I see in those around me - but I can see it - and I've been able to help other people be able to see that for themselves.
But I'll never have a one room school house out in the middle of a chunk of frontier. They don't exist anymore. I was born about a hundred years too late for that.
Now I'm graduating in a year, and I don't know what I'm going to do with my fairly useless degree.
In the last couple years, I've made forays into researching how to get into teaching. Every time I have, the shape of the system makes my head hurt. The educational field has its own language and codes of conduct and - and - and -
I swear to god, sometimes I feel like a smart person - and then I stare that stuff in the face and it makes my head swim.
And I look at the kids that I work with, and I can't see that the system is helping them.
And I look at what it would take to get into that system, and I can't see any way that I can jam myself into it.
I can't even understand it well enough to climb the walls - and what I see on the other side -
It makes me sick.
When I ran into my teacher on campus the other day, Brian, I was talking to him about how I'd been looking into getting into a program overseas that would end in teaching certification in another country. His first reaction was an interesting one - he referred to me as "an educator with a particular interest in Social Justice" - something that took me aback for a moment. I guess I hadn't thought of my goals in those terms before, but it made a kind of sense. He then pointed out the fact that by going to another country, I'd have to learn the challenges of a completely different society - that at least here, I knew what was wrong and had some idea of what I had in myself to work towards making things better. I came back with, but I'm so fucking tired of the ways things are here - I feel like I really need to see the way things are somewhere else, even if it only results in my coming back here with a new appreciation for a country that I really don't feel like I belong in right now. We eventually compromised in our cross-purposed talk, and Brian told me to make an appointment with him after school starts again so that we can start looking into different programs, both here and overseas, and look for something with the best fit.
I like that idea. I'm going to definitely make that appointment.
But when I was talking to Nadine today, she pretty much rejected that idea out of hand. She wants me to start talking to a Job Development counselor and look at what I'll be able to do just with the degree that I'll be getting. I'm going to do this - but I know that there's going to be a much greater challenge in this than there is with most of her clients, who are getting much more straightforward degrees in things like Engineering or Business or what have you. There's not a specific industry geared for a person with a Theatre Education degree - especially one that doesn't give one license to teach in a standard school system.
The one bright spot in the appointment - not that it was a bad appointment, just challenging - is that Nadine's going to get me started seeing my old counselor/therapist/life coach again. If nothing else, it will be good to get that going again. Mark's a very clarifying person, and being able to reestablish that relationship will be very helpful.
Betwixt, bothered and bewildered* - that's me.
This is a shapeless sort of entry, but that's how I'm feeling at the moment. Formless around the edges. Certain, really, of nothing - other than my uncertainty.
"And there it is - too many notes."
* Apologies to George Gershwin for the mangled paraphrasing.