For the last 11 years or so, my life, the people, and the conversations that have comprised that life have been largely focused on education. Few are the folks I call friends who cannot hang in a conversation about education, school, learning, and the like.
I decided a little over a decade ago that this field, this ecosystem, would be the thing on which I focused my attention, my days and nights. I’ve had the opportunity to approach the conversation from various vantage points throughout the last few years. From a classroom, to a school, to a district, to a national perspective.
Talking with family over the recent holidays, someone asked how I could resist working in other fields outside of education. “Why not work on affordable housing or civic infrastructure,” they’d asked. The crux of it was a question as to how I could ignore these other problems and focus solely on improving one system.
It’s a good question, and I’d be lying if I claimed to not have wrestled with it pretty regularly.
Here’s the answer I keep coming back to, “This is the thing I’m trying to work on, and I am best at working on that if I have faith other smart, dedicated, curious people are working on the other problems I care about.”
This isn’t a claim of being especially talented at the work I show up to do each day. I do my best, and hope it’s good enough.
It’s really more a statement of faith that there are folks who have shown up to do work to solve the other problems I care about as well – climate change, institutional poverty, civic infrastructure, voter rights. The list goes on.
Sometimes, there’s a feeling that not making something my life’s work is the same thing as not making something a thing I care about in my life. The answer for this is the informal focus I try to throw on the stuff that’s not my day-to-day. I’m working on being a Jack of all trades and master of one.
And whether it’s well-placed or not, I’ve gotta believe that other people show up to their jobs each day with the same feeling and approach. Believing otherwise would be to invite a feeling that it’s all too much. I can’t be all the changes I wish to see in the world. Instead, I have to try to be one of those changes and hope everyone else read that quote as a charge to do something else.