Being a teacher means more than being a subject matter expert. Inside of the classroom, we are part entertainer, part circus ringmaster, and part encyclopedia. Outside of the classroom teachers need to organize, plan, grade, give feedback, write lessons, research and fact check, and come up with ideas to keep a classroom full of people entertained and informed. Unsettling minds isn’t officially part of the job description, but the best teachers won’t leave you feeling settled.
And here is one of the things that people sometimes need reminded of: learning hurts. Any type of personal transformation, whether it be physical training, learning new information or a new skill, or creating art, everything that changes people takes time, effort, will, and pain. By the end of the process the person is different. Sometimes only in small ways, and sometimes quite dramatically, but ultimately we are changing people. And sometimes the little changes make the biggest differences.
As a teacher, I like to see students feeling that special kind of pain… I like to see you grow, and transform, and be better. Which makes one of the deep dark secrets of teaching that they are (secretly or not so secretly) sadistic. I can see when students have been struggling with ideas, and then they come back for more. Which makes one of the deep dark secrets of students is that they are secretly masochistic.
I must be cruel, only to be kind. I do this for your own good you know.
There is also a fine tradition of those who uphold knowledge as an ideal. Regular scientists are known for pushing the boundaries of knowledge. And mad scientists… well they push the boundaries hard.
As a teacher, I am an agent of change. I help shape hundreds of minds every single year. I can’t reach them all… but I can certainly try. I can just imagine my ideas, my tools for looking at the world and propagating them like some kind of mental pathogen.
Infectious ideas. I can almost hear my former students now: “That is weird… no, that is interesting. Let’s do math to it.”
Yep. It’s good to be evil.