When I talk to people nowadays about what I have chosen to do, I can’t help but feel like I am being cross-examined. Curiousity drives their line of questioning, no doubt. I also sense puzzlement, disbelief, suspicion after a few more probing questions, to which I am not obliged to give lengthy answers to. Conversations typically go something like this:
Q: “Were you transferred here from another school?”
Me: “No, I’m on contract, and am waiting to enter school in July.”
Q: “Oh. You did a mid-career switch?” (I am pleased that I don’t give off rookie vibes.)
Q: “What were you doing before?”
Me: “I was in R&D.”
Q: “For how long?”
Me: “15 years.”
(They would pause for awhile here, trying to make sense of what I just said and/or trying to guess my age.)
Q: “Why are you teaching at the Primary Level?” (Usually puzzled at this point)
Me: “I’m interested in kids in this age group where they are developing their learning styles and habits…spewing some things about pedagogy.”
Q: “With your qualifications, you could teach at a secondary school or college. You still have time to change.”
Me: “Yes, I know. But I chose to teach the primary level.”
(The “What?! Why??” expressions appear here.)
Q: “But the content is so basic, you will be bored.” (TOTAL suspicion.)
Me: “I don’t think so. There is a lot I have to learn.” (Makes me wonder if they are bored.)
It is interesting to watch how people react to the choices I’ve made. Very few are open to them. Most have expressions of disbelief on their faces, though some have tried unsuccessfully to hide their reactions, and want to hear all the gossip behind your decision.
There are only a few accepted reasons, both good and bad, why people make changes in their careers. Reasons pertaining to mid-career switches to teaching are generally not associated with the good over here. Why? Because success is and has always been equated to big positions, high salaries, and nice offices. None of these you find are in abundance in teaching.
So when my choice was made known, there were questions of whether I had buckled under pressure and failed in my old job or if I had done something wrong that I had to go. A few knew I left at my peak; I didn’t fail nor did I buckle, but I was unhappy everyday. I knew I had to do something. One day I just decided, and the rest is history. It has been six months since, and I have not regretted the decision one bit. I am looking forward to the next phase, and I think no one else need to understand why I did what I did.
I had the conversation above again today with another. I could very clearly see that this person I spoke to had a lot of difficulty understanding my choices. Finally this person asked me, “Do you have children?” I don’t, so I said no. This person stopped interrogating me immediately and I saw a new thought come into mind. The person literally just zipped the mouth shut. If I had to guess, this person thinks that my desire to teach in primary school stems from the fact that I have no children of my own. (That is another unconventional choice few understand.)
Whatever floats their boats. I’ll accommodate.