I was walking in blind. I didn’t understand the topic properly until I was sitting in front of my audience of about forty thirteen-year-olds. There was a time this would have been terrifying: it’s one of the scariest ages, isn’t it? But I’ve aged out of most fears of looking foolish -- a form of resignation, really.
It turned out the ninth-grade organizers of this event were very smart, impressively thoughtful. Their topic was the world-wide shortage of teachers, especially in the developing world. I was there to be little more than a living example. Look, a real person who chose to teach!
Since I had prepared some notes, I decided I may as well say something. I challenged them a little. How many see themselves teaching? None. How many see themselves as artists? Half a dozen. How many want to travel? Most. Here was some raw material I could work with.
I told them they couldn’t be artists without being curious. I told them they couldn’t travel without seeing things. They would meet people. They would meet children. They would see poverty. They would care.
I have been contemplating this profession of teaching. Specifically, why do writers often become teachers? The two types share a love for architectures. We are builders. We love our constructions, and there is some parallel between the good story and the good lesson that nurtures this alliance between callings.