This I Believe

Judith - South Bend, Indiana
Entered on May 9, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65

I Like Teaching The World

When I was growing up, a soft drink company launched a series of commercials featuring a song in which children sang that they wanted to teach the world.

I liked the song well enough, but what pulled at my core was the thought about being able to teach the world.Teaching not just in a school, but in the “real world.” To and for the “real world.”

Teaching not just in a classroom of high flying history students, or a group of junior high school beginning language students, but the whole world! Subject matter was fine, but limiting. Grade levels allowed me to teach to similar groups. but as a junior high and high school teacher in Oregon, while I was teaching one age group, my mind was always toying with alternate scenarios–how would I teach this same topic to older kids? Younger kids? Adults. New learners of English?

For a while, I varied my teaching experiences, hoping variety would give me

satisfaction. I even enrolled briefly as a sixth former in Europe to get a student’s experience but with an American high school teacher’s background and training.

Eventually, I changed careers and found a way to satisfy my longing to teach the world.

I found a way to live my core value through my job. I’m a librarian.

I’ve been a public librarian and a college librarian and a student librarian in a major university. I’ve been a librarian for 13 years.

Librarians teach the world. We teach toddlers and professors. We teach the desperately poor. We teach teens looking for ways to become themselves. We teach in hundreds of languages, and in the universal language of helping with grace and a smile. We do this all within the space of an hour or two on the help desk, or in the time it takes to plan and conduct a program for the community we serve.

And what is it that librarians teach?

How to play. How to find help. How to help oneself. How to master the increasing number of technology gizmos, from iPods to scanners to different computers and software.

And we do that too within the space of an afternoon on the help desk.

Being a librarian helps me to connect and share with the entire lifeblood of a community. For that I am grateful. I have found a profession that allows me to be idealistic, optimistic and eminently practical and down to earth. Just ask any librarian giving directions on where to find the latest bestseller and rebooting a computer on the way to grab a plunger

to remedy in person the latest overflowing toilet.