Ringing in the New Year, for me, not only marks the start of a new year, but also the start of another year of living. My birthday is January 2nd.
Some time ago, I hitched my career wagon onto the education train and have been heading down that line of track for 24 years. Oh, the sights I have seen along this pathway and the communities and cultures I have experienced! The beginning of a new year always gives me pause, but this year, at the 60-year mark in life, I find this reflection to be more emotional, more compelling and more focused.
I remember when I turned 40, I made a video resume of how I had ascended to where I was, and with on-camera reference to the outstanding opportunities that lie ahead. This year I am not inclined to repeat this, but I feel compelled to emotionally dig deep and discover what it is that I now truly value.
I can not imagine moving beyond this point in life without taking mental account of who I am and where it is that I go from here. Mortality stares more astutely at me than ever before and I want to know what it is I can do to make life on this planet more fulfilling and rewarding. This is not a selfish endeavor, but a necessary means through which self-realization can be achieved even at the ripe old age of 60.
As a teacher in the science classroom, I am a witness to budding young and inspired generations of students and mindful of the new challenges and opportunities that they will face in the modern world. Every day is a reminder of the necessity of the struggle that we all will face, together, to create a world of exciting opportunities and achievement for all. This belief is penned by a ”true liberal” inspired by the evolution of new ideas and innovative solutions that support and enhance the welfare of our society.
Witnessing baby steps, as I recall from my young parenting days, was an exciting event holding an element of hazard, but at the same time it was a physical expression of progress! Moving forward literally! I see these events reflected in the learning taking place in the science classroom where students are increasingly challenged to use their knowledge and understanding to solve real-world problems and exhibit high levels of performance. Project-based aspect of learning is now the preferred education model that this sixty-year-old, reflecting and mortality challenging teacher, has intimately embraced as the most promising track forward. This metaphorical train is still barreling into the future, and I continue to help facilitate students’ transition from academics (pencil and paper) to application (prototype modeling). It is a deliciously excruciating baby-step experience as students struggle to model events mathematically and scientifically and then apply these abstractions to concrete engineered solutions.
I think that from now on life for me will be a baby-step process, like my students, moving forward as I embrace the reality of getting old, but remind myself of the need to work for progress. Even if progress is, at times, incremental it is laced with progressive values that show empathy for people in their struggles. With personal self-realization I know I can make a difference in peoples’ lives in ways that I can only begin to imagine. So, I am up for challenges I will face this new year and the reality of turning 60 years old. Bring it on!