Saturday, November 14, 2009

"You want fries with that?"

A long time ago I was told having a college degree--any degree--would open doors in my future. As anyone else reading this who also majored in the liberal arts knows, this door opening was not always wide enough for us to squeeze through. If we did land a good paying job we worked hard to keep it, fearing our next job would involve the phrase, "You want fries with that?"

Maybe after a long wait liberal arts students are being valued in job applicants. Having a degree got me in the door at Charles Schwab where I first got my broker training and licensing. Schwab actually told us that the economics, accounting, and finance majors often did not perform as well as those of us with a broader background of knowledge. My younger-than-me boss admitted to being a philosophy major! One day I asked him what he had been thinking. His reply, "I don't know. It was the 70s."

Like most of my countrymen I now find myself struggling to hold on to being middle class as food prices, banking fees, and interest rates go up and the only work ethic remaining seems to be that of greed for greed's sake. I've been forced to take on a second job, and sometimes a third.

This year I am substitute teaching, something I was not sure I could do. I am always uncomfortable giving workshops or lectures, but those audiences were of my peers. Always nerve-wracking when you know the people you're talking to know as much as you do, and some of them know more. I tutored one-on-one for a while and really loved that. It sounds cliche to say it was rewarding, but it was beyond belief. To see a young person's eyes light up when he "gets it" is one of the best natural highs I've known. I also work with a company that grades standardized tests both from Indiana and other states. The things the various boards of education look for have helped me tutor so my students can excel in these.

Though the school district in which I live tries to place subs into their declared areas of knowledge, sickness and sub shortages mean venturing into areas I struggled with in school. To my surprise I'm finding I can actually be helpful to students in a wide range of subjects. I credit much of this to having a broad background of knowledge. My life experiences too, my travels, the jobs good and bad, the voracious reading, all have helped broaden my awareness and hones my critical thinking skills. I am not the girl who graduated with a bachelor's in history. To my surprise I'm finding the rewards to be found in the classroom. They are small but I hope I'm lighting a spark in the minds of today's youth that just might blossom into a broad background of knowledge for them as well. Then they can pass that spark to the generation after them.

This is all just another facet of the cycle of life. Yes, I'd rather be paid the big bucks--who would not? Lucky for me, I've discovered that being paid in satisfaction and peace of mind is worth almost as much as a paycheck.... almost.

BB, Edain

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