I shall teach.
I am 45 years old. I’m out of work. There’s a global pandemic. Nothing seems right with the world.
And the only trade that seems more troubled, more affected by society’s idolatry and hedonism than journalism is education.
Well, reporters, teachers and cops. They’re all tough jobs in any era.
I’m too old and too fat to go wheezing around town after the city’s scofflaws.
But I damn well know writing.
So, I shall teach.
I believe writing is a primary form of self-expression and the mastery of it can lead to a happier, healthier life.
If nothing else, you can impress people by hiding what you don’t know through artfully stating what you do know.
Being full of shit is an employable skill.
Yes, I shall teach.
But first I shall learn.
Monday begins the new semester at Drake University. I will be a graduate student in the School of Education.
I’m in a master’s degree program. My adviser and I have mapped out an aggressive course of study.
If all goes well, I’ll be student teaching in a year and hitting up Des Moines-area districts for a full-time gig at middle schools and high schools come January 2022.
I am not a tourist in education. This is not a placeholder. This is the second half of my working life.
I’m middle-aged. I gave 23 years to journalism. I’ve got another 22 years to work before I earn Social Security.
I was a journalist. I will be a teacher almost as long. That will be a good life, a life spent in public service — especially the second half.
I graduated high school thinking I would become a teacher. I remember asking my high school principal to save me a job when he gave me my diploma in spring 1993.
I planned to be a history teacher when I enrolled for classes at Drake that fall.
Then I got a job covering football for the campus newspaper. That began 27 years of getting paid to stack paragraphs.
That run ended in May. You know the story: Pandemic plus corporate cutbacks equal the end of careers.
I’ve dwelled on the end too long.
It’s time to get up, dust off and take a bold step in a new direction.
Yes, I shall teach.
Reset. Back to school at middle age.
There’s no institution that has served me better than Drake. It has always been there for me when I needed to grow and regenerate.
First, I was an undergraduate and learned my passion for my first trade.
Then, about 15 years back, I was out of work in journalism (this is a theme of the industry in the 21st century), and I worked at Drake in public relations.
And now, in the middle of my working life, I come home to Drake yet again. There must be a reason why I’ve lived in the neighborhood since I came back to Des Moines in 2004.
I’ve already contacted the campus newspaper editor about work. I need to embed myself amongst our youth and understand how they think, how they uptake and process information.
I expect to learn from my students far more than I’ll ever teach them. I might as well start by getting to know the loads of students around me at Drake.
I don’t want to be just a teacher. I want to be a great teacher.
I realize I’m an old man by the standards of youth. It feels strange as hell to be a rookie in my 40s.
But not entirely unfamiliar. The last few years of my journalism career consistently felt like I had gotten off the bus in the wrong neighborhood.
I didn’t know where I was, what I was doing or who I was doing it for. The trade was a mess and the people who struggled the most often were those who had practiced it the longest.
The advantage teaching has over journalism, one of many I hope, is that you always know who you serve: The students.
Right now, I am a student again. Well, that’s not quite right. I’ve always been a student. Good journalists study people and society.
I was a good journalist, even if the greedy corporate hustlers eventually decided they could do better without me.
I will strive to be a good teacher.
All it takes is everything I’ve got.
And when that’s gone, I’ll find some more and give it that, too.
Yes. I shall teach.
Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy.
ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.