Yes, it's that time of year. After a summer of laziness, students are waking up well before noon, grabbing their books and lunch and heading off to school. And lemme tell you, I don't miss it one bit. In fact, it would take a pretty penny to get me to be a student again. I can't imagine doing all of that homework, writing all of those papers and taking all of those tests again. I don't see how my friends who went to grad school did it. I really don't.
Take my friend Dave, for instance. I consider him the smartest person I know. I really do. I am convinced that one day he will be the preeminent Constitutional scholar in the nation. And after all the schooling he's done, he'd better be. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1999. That fall he started law school at Yale University. Not bad, huh? Well, that just wasn't enough for this over-achiever. After a couple of years at Yale, he headed across the pond to work on another law degree at Oxford. OXFORD! He spent a year or so studying there before returning to the United States to finish his research and his thesis or dissertation or whatever they call it. That took a couple more years, at which point he went back to Yale to finish up there and get his JD in May 2005. That meant after all his years in school (and years of avoiding the real world), it was finally time to put some of the finest education money could buy to work. So like many top-notch law school grads, he spent the last year clerking for a federal judge. He used to tell me that his plan after his clerkship was to work at a law firm for a few years to make some money and pay off his crippling school debt. No doubt, with all his knowledge and ability, he'd make some serious cash. After making some money, he figured he would head back to academia and
Well, long story short, Dave decided he just did not want to work at a firm. After all, his expertise is Constitutional law, not criminal, corporate or civil. So he's skipping the big money and the 80-hour work weeks it takes to earn enough billable hours to make it and has headed, where else, but back to school. This time, though, he is teaching, and at the law school at The George Washington University in DC, I might (proudly) add. And that's great. Hey, I've always said I'd like to teach one day. But I can't imagine getting back in the classroom so quickly. That being said, though, I admire him and all teachers for their commitment to their trade. After all, as far as I'm concerned, there can be no nobler profession as teaching, even if some people are just training another generation of attorneys. Just kidding.
Seriously, though, if you or your kids are heading back to school this week (or any week, for that matter, now that we have year-round schools), take a minute to forget about all that back-to-school shopping you had to do. Forget about the earlier wake-up calls (I guarantee I'm up before you are each morning). Stop complaining about the extra traffic on the road thanks to car pools, school buses and 11,000 students at UNC-W. Just for a moment, don't worry about that. Instead, think about what it's all about: Education. Sure you may wish tuition was cheaper. But can there really be too great a price on education?
My hero Benjamin Franklin once said, "Genius without education is like silver in the mine." If that's the case, then we obviously need the miners, or in this case the teachers, to bring the treasure to the surface.
So as students head back to school, I say thank you to all you teachers out there. I especially thank the ones like my friend Dave, who are just starting their career. While so many people find reasons not to teach, these new teachers look past those reasons and toward the future they hope to help shape.