The Passion for Knowledge

Cailyn Dougherty
English & Creative Writing Teacher

The passion for knowledge has always been within me. It was something, even at a young age, I could remember having. I would create these expansive stories in my head about adventures a character had been on or struggles a character had gone through. Of course, when I was younger, I didn't realize I was researching or analyzing my environment for context clues on social behaviors.

It just came naturally for me to analyze my surroundings and to take in information. I can still remember when O.J. Simpson went on trial and wishing it would just end, but more than that; I remember questioning why someone would kill their wife. All of these tidbits of information logged and categorized; just waiting to be used. It wasn't until high school where this type of Obsessive Compulsive trait came in handy.

I started discussing complex ideas such as philosophy with my friends, and classmates. I even engaged in after school activities as debate, and a writer's club to help focus my writing skills. While I knew then, and definitely know now, these experiences were not necessarily special, they were defining moments in my life which would lead me towards the pathway of teaching.

So, here I am in year two as an English Teacher, and I'm questioning the field I have chosen and not necessarily because of the students. Don't get me wrong. I teach Freshman English at a learning academy in Houston, Texas and for the most part, the students are actively engaged in their lessons and are at least willing to learn to a certain extent. The biggest issue I face at my school is an unspoken rule of doing what is necessary for the students.

Before entering the education field, I thought what many people thought: Teachers complain about having it super easy; summers off, easy work hours, and teachings things they enjoyed. When in reality, I'm working sixty plus hours a week, providing additional help over the summer or attending professional developments, and struggling to pay the bills. The life of the modern teacher is plagued with many issues including but not limited to a lack of resources, higher than ever expectations of staff but lower than ever expectations of students and hand holding.

We've lost sight of what we are meant to do: teach students how to obtain the passion for knowledge. Maybe it is because we live in what has been dubbed as the internet age; maybe, it is because the politicians don't understand what a teacher deals with on a day-to-day basis. There are lots of people we can blame, but no answer to the question.

The issue is, we are still trying to engage students the way we used to. These aren't the same students, and they are not the same kids. They live in an age where if they want to know the name of a song, they pull up an app and it tells them instantly. If they want to re-watch an episode of their favorite show they don't have to wait for a recap episode or for the box set to come out.

To help reignite the passion of these students, we need to get them to realize the value of asking questions. We need to show them vulnerability, compassion, and understandings because, for the most of them, they have been told to be quite, look it up and go away.

We live in a society that places value on beauty over brains then complains about other countries making academic advancements in science and math. It is because we have silenced the creative and told the intellectual they are not pretty enough. Whether it was through social media, their parents, or through their favorite show; we have devalued intelligence, and through this act, we have devalued the importance of knowledge and seeking truths.

Cailyn Dougherty
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