For My Kids and Students

I’ve been obsessed with work and education for as long as I can remember. I distinctly remember walking down the hallway with a teacher in Grade 7, telling him that I thought it would be cool to grow up and study “why schools are the way they are.” Do they have to look like prisons? Why do they have such small windows? Why is school boring? Why can’t we go on more field trips?”

Concerning work, my first fast food jobs as a young teen were immediate sources of indignation, from the uniforms to the arbitrary authority of supervisors to the threat of fewer hours and shitty shifts if you didn’t toe the line. I had a bad attitude. I got fired a lot.

Now I have a PhD in Educational Policy Studies. I still have a bad attitude, and I still question the role of both education and work in social justice on a near daily basis, especially in that, as someone pushing 50 years old, I have never had a secure, “normal” job in my life.

I share this condition of job precarity with armies of adjunct PhDs who now teach the majority of undergraduate classes in Canada’s universities, and do not know whether they’ll have a job next term. I share precarity with the Uber driver I met a couple of weeks ago who didn’t want to take an urgent call from his wife for fear of pissing me off and getting a bad “rating.” I share this precarity with my kids and students, who face bleak job prospects, and wonder whether they’ll ever own their own homes, or be able to afford to have kids.

The older I get, the more I value and love the energy and curiosity of the young adults in my life. The older I get, the more I wonder whether I’m doing anything purposeful with my life. I do not know that writing a blog constitutes anything purposeful. But I do know that when I’m writing, I’m thinking about my kids, their wonderful friends, and all the undergraduate students I’ve had the pleasure to teach. I’m thinking about hope, courage, lives filled with meaningful relationships and activities, and wishing these things for all of you.