Sunday, March 16, 2008

Manual Labor!

For five days, I’ve done the most exhausting physical labor of my life, but I anticipate it paying off for years to come. I, with much help from C. have redesigned my entire back yard so that it is a place I want to spend my evenings. Growing up on a farm, there is just something about the outdoors that captures me and calls to me. In a year, my secret garden will be an efficient oasis within my urban landscape.

I work in education and some in the field see our focus as getting students to go to college, in fact, my job exists solely to get students to enroll in some postsecondary institution after high school. The prejudice with educators against those who do not value as much as we do is thinly veiled by many as the platitude that “college is not for everyone.” If everyone wore librarian glasses, the statement would be delivered down the nose and over the glasses.

Educators feel a certain need to persuade every person that if they do not get a four-year degree, at least, they really will not be successful, no matter what they do. Training, apprenticeships, two-year, and technical degrees are viewed as lesser options that will only lead to a lifetime of struggle and misery.

It annoys me when other educators act in such a way because the facts are otherwise – only about 23% of careers being created in the United States require a four-year degree. Sixty-five percent require some training post-high school, specifically not a four-year degree. Still the prejudice continues.

After a week of hard physical labor, I see the joy of it. My call is to be an educator; I’ve tried other jobs and have been miserable in them, but the accomplishment one sees when boards are hammered and dirt is shoveled, is real, visible, and capable of bringing joy over time.

That is my garden.

Every bloom, every tomato, squash, pepper, cucumber, eggplant, watermelon, cantaloupe, and all the herbs will remind me not to begrudge those who choose to do this kind of work on for a living. I have taken pictures of the project along the way. I think I’m going to print out a bunch of wallet sized photos and whip them out whenever I see the education prejudice rear its head.
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