May 15, 2009

Work will set you free

I had a conversation with my brother once about work. He said he liked his work so much, he would go in early and stay late, work weekends, 12 hour days etc. I told him I could never understand that, liking work. At the time I think I was in highschool and my jobs consisted of mowing lawns, digging holes and data entry, so it's easy to understand why I felt that way. What I didn't understand was that it's not just the work that is part of the job. It's the other people, it's the impact, it's the environment.

I've been through a few more jobs since then, most of them had good sides and also bad: cheap/free food, the access to corporate software, the wiring skills I was learned, the cute girl at the lunch counter, the money I was making or the ease of the workload (I started this blog at work).

None of them fulfilled me. I never went to sleep happy and content, usually instead just out of exhaustion or sometimes with the arresting feeling that I'd be stuck doing this job for a very long time.

Now I work at a charter school, 50 students in the High, 25 in the Middle. It's amazing. Kids are like a drug. Being around youth, creativity and the pure joy that kids can have is intoxicating. I have a boss who trusts me and the decisions I make. She fights to make sure I continue to have a job next school year. I have friends that I go the extra mile for and they do the same for me. The people I work with are passionate, caring and willing to try new things. They are fluid. They have a great sense of humor.

Twice a week the middle school has kane (boy) / wahine (girl) day where they take each gender out for a field trip, project or focus group, the other gender stays behind at school. So twice a week I get to see what it's like for them to be alone.

You know who I love most? Middle school girls.

Lulz. No really:

When you put 13 year old boys together they fight, they spit and hit each other. Insults fly out as quickly as the laughing, they're loud. The little boys submit behind the bigger ones. They spend their time trying to look up scantily clad women on Internet and they break things. They're all the bad parts of humans--the aggressive and selfish and destructive energies fueled by the inhibitions of youth; they're assholes.

Putting girls alone means giggling, hula dancing and hair braiding. They look up lol cats on Internet. They're quiet and they help each other. They embody the good forces in the world.

There are, of course, exceptions. There are definitely some laid back and gentle boys and there are some bitchy girls. Most of the time I prefer them mixed. They're a wonderful group that has made my life here several orders of magnitude better.

Now something is different. A place that values me, where I actually make an impact that's not just based on profit. Some days I leave school in a fantastic mood. I roll all the windows down and praise the planet. It's a funny feeling to drive away from work and look forward to going back.

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