Existentialism

I’ve just figured out a reason why no one has commented on my last two posts.  I wrote both of them (and this one) while I was on half term holiday, when I pressed publish, WordPress didn’t update the date – it kept it as February’s date – so they won’t have appeared on your RSS feeds. And I was beginning to get all despondent as well! Still, a lesson in blogging for me!

So… another post written two weeks ago in half term – don’t forget to go back and look at the last two posts as well, if you haven’t already.

This is a very personal post by my standards and so if you are not into that then back away now! But then the personal is political – right?

As I have been on half term (by the time I post this I expect I will be back into my normal full pelt mode) I have had time to think and to reflect on things.

I have always been given to periods of deep introspection, which at times can turn to severe depression and sometimes I just disappear up my arse with it all.

On this occasion it turned into full on existentialistic angst. And I find this quote from the Wikipedia definition to be quite fitting:

What I really lack is to be clear in my mind what I am to do, not what I am to know, except in so far as a certain knowledge must precede every action. The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do: the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die. … I certainly do not deny that I still recognize an imperative of knowledge and that through it one can work upon men, but it must be taken up into my life, and that is what I now recognize as the most important thing.

Søren Kierkegaard , Letter to Peter Wilhelm Lund dated August 31, 1835

Oooh, Kierkegaard, no less! (like I said, tendency to disappear up my own arse!)

But the essential idea is one which I am struggling with.  I had hoped that training to be a teacher would help me with this – by teaching I can help people, my placement in a Sixth Form college I am teaching English GCSE, AS Theatre Studies and also Btec Performing Arts. For those of you outside the UK Sixth Form College is one of the options for when you have finished school (done your GCSEs). GCSEs- 15/16 year olds and AS & Btec 16/17/18. This is average ages – obviously things change! Sixth forms tend to take better achieving students, certainly the one where I am is anyway.

I love teaching and I think I am shaping up to be a pretty good teacher, but I don’t think I am doing something which is what I am here to do – what Keirkegaard says is “what God really wishes me to do”. I’m sure I am not alone in feeling like this – I also don’t say this with some sort of feeling that I am a special person who deserves to be fulfilled, but I need to be doing something worthwhile, that I am here to serve. In a un-obsequious way obviously – this is me, after all!

I hope and I think that it is something to do with teaching – just maybe in a different setting. For example I am about 40 minutes away from inner London, or East London, both crying out for good teachers who will be able to get through to their students. As I am training in post- compulsory I am not teaching school age children, but later than that. Maybe I could do some work in working on literacy with young adults who have fallen through the gaps to stop them become a statistic in my last post.?

The reason for this post was to explain the some what ranty and political nature of my last post. I am thinking deeply about the social injustice that we are surrounded by. On so many levels as well – and for me this is part of the problem. There are so many things that I care deeply about how can I possibly do anything about them all.

Well, I can’t. Not right this minute at least. So I have started looking into voluntary positions in my local area where I hope I will be able to use my teaching skills immediately. I may look into to doing some environmental work as well at some point, depending on how I cope with these extra commitments.

One day I maybe able to roll all of my interests into one great big work/life amazing amorphous mass, however right this minute I can’t, so I trying to do what I can. This blog is part of that – I am not sure how as yet, but I hope in some way it is.

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2 thoughts on “Existentialism

  1. EcoYogini says:

    oh I’m sorry you’re feeling frustrated- I’m not sure i’m 100% clear on who your teaching… but I think it’s like 12 grade highschool? or maybe college? the system seems so completely different. In any case, I hope it goes well, perhaps you need to give it time.

    You’re right though, the beautiful thing about teaching is that it has so many applications. I personally love the idea of helping adults with literacy issues… maybe cuz of my Speech Pathology background- i don’t know 🙂

    Many Blessings and don’t worry, I had the same issue with a post before-!

    Lisa

  2. EcoYogini – in the UK, kids finish the equivalent of high school at 16, and the 16-18 year olds who continue with academic studies are at sort of AP level or 1st year of North American college/university (or grade 13 in Canada, maybe? Not sure about that…) – and they narrow down their focus to a few subjects that they study more intensely.

    Jen – I’ve been in your situation lots, so I’m sympathetic. Something that has worked for me is taking more action generally – keep Doing, and the meaning (and the way) will surface, you’ll be able to see it more clearly – even if the things you’re doing aren’t the right things to be doing, they serve a purpose in sort of flushing the game of your true purpose (or at least making it visible to you). It sounds like you’re doing this, so hopefully bliss is just around the corner =).

    On the depression front, the most useful thing I’ve read is _The Optimistic Child_ by Martin Seligman. I was supposed to read something else of his, but was resistant and happened to find this in a charity shop, but eventually I do want to read his _Learned Optimism_. If only it wasn’t such a happy-slappy title… =)

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