Journal of Secondary Alternate Education
Column: Lukiv's "Place" for Educators to Think About Teaching
Previous column: http://journalsecondaryalternateeducation.20m.com/blank_10.html
Who Am I? (published previously in: canadiancontent (Canada), 2001 [June]; The English Teachers' Online Network of South Africa (South Africa), 2002; and A Career Counselling Symposium (Canada, BCTF Lesson Aids), 2002.
Dan Lukiv[Editorial note: Why do we choose the careers we do? This article may help secondary alternate teachers explore why they choose to teach such demanding students who often display moderate to severe socio-emotional challenges.]
f you accept Ecclesiastes 3:11, which says, "Even time indefinite [eternity] he [Jehovah] has put in their heart," then you find no surprise in people everywhere wondering who they are in this vast universe (New World Translation, 1984). Further, "[in 1991] TV producer Norman Lear was a guest speaker to the national convention of the National Education Association....[, and] said: ‘I have no trouble drawing the conclusion, from human history, that the response to [our purpose in life]...is so strong and irresistible as to be part and parcel of the way we are genetically coded"' (The Source, 1992, p. 8). This need to know who we are and what we should be doing with our lives gives psychological presses lots of business.1
For example, Consulting Psychologists Press publishes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test. I completed its 94 questions. Did it tell me who I am, and give me direction about what path I should follow in life? Did it help me understand my career choices? Instead of answering those questions here, let me take you on a journey to http://eye.snu.ac.kr/~jejoong/favor/accessory.htm, one of a labyrinth of self-analysis web sites and print tests that evaluate personality types or thinking styles. The site says, "This program provides information about your dominant brain hemisphere [right brain versus left brain], your information processing ways [visual versus auditory] and so on." Great, huh?
If the program is great, why did I get two completely different readings on the two different occasions that I did the test? Because the test randomly selects questions from a cyber chasm of many, both tests were totally different. Good. My exposure to the first test shouldn't have affected my score on the second. But why does the first one say I am "strongly left-hemisphere dominant, with a balanced preference for auditory and visual inputs," while the second one says I am "somewhat left-hemisphere dominant and a predominantly visual learner"? Why does the first say I "have the capacity to simultaneously process a great deal of information," yet the second doesn't? Why does the second say that I am "likely...restless continuously and don't feel challenged," yet the first doesn't?
I wonder if the results are a function of mood, of whether my belly is sloshing full or rumbling empty, of who last yelled at me, or of whether that last editor I sent some poems to accepted them or not. Makes a person wonder, huh?
I'll discuss how my results of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test could show why I've made particular career choices, but I have, I just have, to wonder if my results are a function of lots of stuff that could alter them next Thursday after a loooong staff meeting, or next month after whooping it up at Disneyland.
You get my drift?
As a Myers-Briggs' INTJ, or introverted-intuition-thinking-judgment person, apparently I'm a "relentless innovator[ ]" (Introduction, 1993, p. 24). I think that's sort of a locomotive with a creative mind. Being a "relentless innovator[ ]" might explain why I gravitated to the innovative worlds of creative writing and mathematics in university, and why I drove myself doggedly to learn about them.
Apparently I'm "the most independent of all the types." Does that explain why I've enthusiastically pursued a career as a secondary alternate teacher over the last 31 years? Secondary alternate education typically caters to students' individuality. I do zealously value and honour that quality in my students. As I said in The Master Teacher: A Collection,
1. I choose methods that my experience says will work on an individual basis according to what I perceive as the educational and socio-emotional needs of each student.
2. I choose methods that show respect and concern for, and that value, the student, reinforcing for the student that his or her individuality and learning style, providing they don't encroach of the rights of others, are important. (2001, chapter 12, paragraph 3).
In view of my working with students with socio-emotional troubles, here is a good place to add that, evidently, I have a "preference...for intuition," a preference that likely helps me guess how to "reach" my students. (Introduction, 1993, p. 24). But there is more. As an INTJ, "the boldness of [my] intuition...should not be smothered in a routine job" (p. 24). I have opposed the boredom of routine by routinely ("there's the rub") creating new, and what I'd like to think of as innovative, courses, even writing them (Shakespeare, 1979, p. 433). I've put my skills as a creative writer to work by writing Creative Writing for Senior Secondary Students (1997) and three other creative-based courses.
Do I sound goal-oriented? Evidently, I am. I possess a "singleminded concentration on goals" (Introduction, 1993, p. 24). That, with my so-called yen for "relentless innovation" and "intuitive insights," has probably helped me launch my writing career. Being the creative locomotive that I am (ha!), I've been a train about learning my art and craft of fiction and poetry, about completing stories, poems, collections, and my two novels, about convincing editors to publish my work. In the Myers-Briggs' J- for-judgment department, I've been a train about "not listen[ing] to the opinions of others [editors]" who don't share my convictions, visions, passions (Introduction, 1993, p. 24).
Sure, Myers-Briggs has me pegged today. I guess. I'm an INTJ. That sounds like a CIA classification for some sort of security threat. Beware of Dan, that "Mission Impossible" hacker. But what about tomorrow after six students tell me where to stuff my history books, or after a candle-lit dinner with my wonderful wife who puts up with me and my INTJ-obsessions of the here-and-now? What would Myers-Briggs say about me then?
Yes, I'm thinking about who I am in the stream of eternity in this General Relativity-universe of who knows if the stars and planets are really where and when they are supposed to be. "Who am I?" Those Myers-Briggs gyze have got me thinking. I suppose I'm a rooted Antaeus right now:
THE ALPHABET [1999, p. 197]
Duffy "lived a little distance
From his body,"
Like a plucked brain,
Like a leaping Antaeus.
The touch of her hand
On his cheek
Might have cured him,
But he'd neither learned the alphabet
Of simple somersaults
Nor held the Roman torch:
Mens sana in corpore sano
(A sound mind in a sound body) .
O Duffy Descartes:
"I think; therefore,
What am I? Who am I? Thank Myers-Briggs for stamping those questions on my forehead. Now when I look in the mirror, there they are. In bold type, too. I hope nobody else notices.
And as for those questions I wrote in my second paragraph: Did the Myers-Briggs test tell me who I am, and give me direction about what path I should follow in life? Did it help me understand my career choices? In view of all I've said, I'd have to say, I'm not sure, but I've had fun thinking about why I might have pursued some of my career paths, and about what some of my personality traits and thinking styles are. I've enjoyed wondering who in eternity I am.
Brain.exe ( 2001, April 2). Available: http://eye.snu.ac.kr/~jejoong/favor/accessory.htm. Retrieved April 2, 2001 from the World Wide Web.
Introduction to type. (1987). Myers-Briggs type indicator. Palo Alto, California, USA: Consulting Psychologists Press.
I still haven't found what I'm looking for. (1998). U2: The best of 1980 - 1990 [CD]. Markham, Ontario, Canada: Island Records/PolyGram Canada/PolyGram International. (Original recording 1987)
Lukiv, D. (1999). The alphabet. The Journal of Poetry Therapy, 12(3), 197.
Lukiv, D. (1997). Creative writing for senior secondary students. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: BCTF.
Lukiv, D. (2001) The master teacher: A collection [On-line book]. Vancouver, BC, Canada: y press. Available: http://www.track0.com/lukiv/masterteacher/bio.html.
New world translation of the Holy scriptures. (1984). Brooklyn, New York, USA: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York.
Shakespeare, W. (1979). Hamlet. The Oxford dictionary of literary quotations (3rd ed.). Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Oxford University Press. (First performed in 1603)
The source of true values. (1992, January 22). Awake!, 8-9.
1This paragraph reminds me of the rock band U2's famous line, "I still haven't found what I'm looking for" (I Still Haven't, 1987/1998).