Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Wow. God really knew what I needed to hear this morning.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9

After a discussion with my mom on the phone last night (which resulted in me yelling... definitely not my proudest moment), I talked to Jerry for a long time, telling him how I felt discouraged. Yes, I have picked a grad school, and thank God so much for giving me an opportunity to serve with my gifts in the field of teaching, but these past couple days have not been easy. Having to explain to people what I want to do and what I feel my calling is has been hard. Others don't understand, and it's hard not having a mentor to talk to about these things. I know my friends are always willing to listen to me, but no one truly understands why I want to go into urban education, I think. Even my own parents, who've always been so supportive of me. When my mom heard I wanted to teach in an urban school, she immediately told me about safety concerns, what I'll do for my own children (will they go to those "crappy schools" too?), and asking me if I could teach somewhere else other than at those "crappy schools".

I guess it just frustrates me because this isn't a decision I made lightly. I didn't just wake up one day, decide to apply to grad school, and then decide I wanted to work with urban students. Since my freshman year at Michigan, when I came in not knowing what I wanted, I have been praying for God's guidance in my life. Through various experiences, He has slowly shown me how to combine my love for working with kids and teaching with social justice and advocating for the poor and those who don't have the opportunities that I was privileged to have growing up. I have taken classes all throughout college that will prepare me for this, and It's a road that is not taken by many, and I know in full that it will be one of the most difficult things I'll ever commit to. But God also never said that following in His path would be the easiest and most comfortable either.

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Matthew 16:24

I'm also reminded of something else I read in Rafe Esquith's book There are No Shortcuts. People often look at me weird when I say I'm going to grad school for education. "You need to go to grad school for that? What's wrong with just a bachelor's degree?" I guess, the explanation I can give is that I didn't have a background in education, and I don't think I'm prepared enough to take on this important task. As Rafe puts it,

"There are many teachers in our system who can't do basic arithmetic and show no desire to better themselves for the sake of their students. I wonder if our society would be tolerant of general medical practitioners who didn't know their basic anatomy. Yet we tolerate ignorant teachers and are paying a terrible price for our apathy."

We require medical students to go through years and years of schooling, so that they can serve us with the best of skills. Yet, we question why teachers would go back for more school - these are children we're talking about. Just like in a surgery that goes wrong, there is no turning back to "fix" the mistakes later - children are growing now, and they need that solid foundation now. It pains me to see people question why teachers need to go to graduate school. They, just like doctors and other professionals, have an important job on their hands - wouldn't you want them to be more prepared as well and to be able to teach to the best of their ability?


kate said...

Hey Mel,

I support you. I think I want to go into teaching too, but more importantly, I think the US Public School Education System needs to be changed. I am with you 100% and I think what you're doing is an amazing thing. Almost every problem I spot about the United States goes back to the people and how we make decisions. If we don't educate ourselves, to put it bluntly, we don't deserve a democracy. (Haha...)

Anyway, I support you. <3 I think what you are doing is a wonderful thing and I plan on following in your footsteps!

Donica said...

Dear Mel,
I understand! I think it's such a wonderful thing you're doing!!!

Joyce said...