Self-doubt, on being a perfectionist, and legacies

It is April 3rd, my name day, and although the patio is not totally set up, we were able to have an evening sandwich looking out a the yard, the pond creating zen sounds, and the hawks, crows, and other birds, in clear sight.

Nothing like a little self-doubt.

I find that, perhaps, it is a teacher thing. I remember that the one thing that I seemed to be plagued by, all the time, was an omnipresent self-doubt. Since education is an imperfect science because you are dealing with people, I would always finish a lesson and immediately do a self-critique. More often than not, it was not actually a time set aside to go over what I had done, but rather the thoughts racing around in my head. I would think, « Should I have modified it this way when so and so asked that pointed question? » I know that I have always thought that all of us, as teachers, do this, but I am guessing that perhaps that is not the case.

Maybe self-doubt isn’t what I am talking about. Maybe, what I am talking about is that desire to do the best you possibly can, to maximize the learning situation, to assure that each and every student has an optimum learning situation. I know that I always wanted to be the best I could be.

Again, I can only speak for myself and for Mary Kay. She also always had that feeling of « What could I have done better? ».

There was always a certain work around as well in that during the time that we teaching; educational theories changed just as does the Chicago weather. In another words, that passion had to be modified and adjust to different methods and deliveries of our subject areas.

Let me also say this, those educational theories and systems along with the master plan for supervising and observing the educators pretty much go by the assumption, in my estimate, that the educators are not passionate, OCD, teachers hell bent on doing the best job. The observations too often were searching for some evidence, in particular, of a method and even disregarded some of the things we were doing that might well have achieved the same goals. As one of those passionate, OCD teachers, sometimes the supervision and observations would annoy me because in trying to check off did I do this or that, it ignored the fact that my life’s purpose was truly to do the best job ever, and that perhaps, I was coming pretty damn close to that.

Another annoyance is that those of us who are not into patting ourselves on the back, or for making a name for ourselves, or for being viewed as the super teacher are sometimes relegated to the background as the squeaky wheel teachers pushed their agenda and looked for a special kind of self-aggrandizement that often appeals to those observing. Again, that is my opinion.

So this teaching set of goals is also a part of my life’s goals and within my own life and family framework and it begs the question, « Have I done everything I could to create the type of life that when I leave will be looked upon as being worth something? Will I have left some sort of mark? What will my true legacy be? Will I be remembered for my idiosyncrasies in the house and garden or will I be remembered for my promotion of the Arts, Reading, Theatre, Exercise, Photography, and Gardening?

Only time will tell and that we shall never know.

About Richard Koerner

Almost seventy something, father, papi, educator, organizer, Francophile, traveler, amateur photographer, gardener, cyclist, kayaker, calligrapher, cinephile, reader, and overall renaissance type human being.
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