Live to teach, don’t teach to live

Like many of you, I am an international school teacher. The longest I have lived anywhere in recent times is four years, in Bangkok. When I first got to Thailand I was constantly doing “double-takes” as I exclaimed about the fact that I lived in Thailand. Just the smallest acts, like getting on a motorbike to go and buy limes, were exciting, novel and fascinating. Slowly, however, I stopped doing the double-takes and, by the end of my stay, I was taking things for granted. I am quite ashamed of that, and do wonder if it affected my teaching.

When you live your life in a way that is full of surprises, curiosity and double-takes you are, certainly, a better teacher. By “better” I mean a teacher who instills those very emotions (and more) in their students. It is this kind of teacher that inspires, that motivates and that draws kids in to inquiry. Of course, if this is true, then the opposite must also be true.

Many of us in this nomadic lifestyle are both blessed and cursed as a result. We do have the chance to keep going to new places and re-experiencing the double-takes again. But we also develop a “grass is greener” mentality as we continue our search for the ideal place to live. We may also be more at risk of becoming jaded as our ideal place never comes to fruition. Everyone knows how poorly a jaded person teaches!

Perhaps moving is not the answer. Perhaps we simply need the determination to become and remain a person who is fascinated and surprised by life, curious about why things are the way they are and willing to take a wrong turning just to see what is around the corner. We can live that way without moving anywhere.

Maybe then we can become and continue to be inspired teachers?


  1. Fleurp (@maritakirby)

    The sustainable teacher must have balance and something to look forward to, to keep the magic going 😉 Maybe as we are essentially curious people ourselves we need to keep moving, and keep discovering, to keep ourselves fresh and inspired?

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