The other morning I got up to write, but I ended up spending 90 minutes helping a friend write instructions to his students for a class project. It was a complicated game he brilliantly called Leviathan. We had been hashing out parts of it over the past few weeks. He wanted a kind of simulation that would help his students think more critically about the writings of Thomas Hobbes (the war of all against all, and all that). The idea we worked out riffed on a popular camp game called “Assassins,” but with lots of complicated rules intended to keep the students engaged and the professor (my friend) out of trouble (rules that involved not making university officials ask questions). I ended up having a lot of fun thinking about this thing off and on over the past few weeks, and then in the 90 minutes it took me to try to make the rules of a pedagogical LARP into something his students could understand easily.
I miss this sort of thing. I still get to do it, just not as much as a used to. My title is Educational Consultant. In the fall I recruit instructors to teach our advanced summer classes to gifted kids. In the spring I help get them ready through trainings and meetings and the kind of stuff that I was doing with my buddy that I described above (and yes, I said “buddy”). But slowly, over the past quinquennium, my secondary job responsibilities have come to push out more and more of my primary job responsibilities. Basically: Tech.
I have another friend who jokes that I missed my true calling as an engineer. This is because I have developed a reputation for being the guy who comes up with the technological solutions for problems or fixes technology when it breaks down. I know shockingly little, to be honest (though I have gotten good at manipulating our FileMaker databases into doing some pretty awesome stuff.) But there is a difference between something you are good at and your “calling.” In my humble opinion, your calling has to be something you are passionate about. It has to be something that gets you up in the morning. It has to be the kind of thing you could work for 90 minutes, but it only felt like 15. For me, that remains teaching.
I love being in the classroom. But I especially love working behind the scenes. In a way, standing in front of students is not good for my ego (my challenge as a teacher remains not falling in love with the sound of my own voice). What I really like is that I got to work together with a motivated friend of mine to put together an activity that will, over time, affect a greater number of students than it would if I were just putting something together by myself. I love the impact of our ideas and conversations.
That’s my calling.