What is your life work?

Today someone shared a poem with me that made me think about life on a deeper level. The poem is called ABC by Theo Weinbobst. It is a concrete poem where the author writes one word for each letter in the alphabet starting at A and going to Z. The poem is not just random words, but rather it tells the story of our life. It starts with the German word for infant [Anfang] and ends with Zentralfriedhof, which means central cemetery.

I had a moment where I starting thinking about my life and I realized that I was going to die one day. It may seem like a grim topic, but it is the truth. It is like this moment or date that is waiting for me and there is nothing that I can do about it.

As I was reading the poem I started to think about how many of us experience life in milestones. These could be graduations, marriage, breakup, loosing your job, promotions, etc. For some of us it really follows a similiar pattern. We go to school, get married, have kids, they grow up, we retire, get a summer home, get older, our friends start to pass, our body starts to go, then we are in a waiting period, and then finally our time comes and we go. This life, the only thing that we know ceases and we find out the truth of the after life.

Usually people do not write about things like these on educational blogs, but I started to think about what I could do with my short life. We all have a time here to do something before we go, what will it be? What will our life work be? How will we accomplish it?

They say that teaching is a very noble profession because we are investing in the lives of others. I think if I had to pick a way to spend my life work, I would agree with this statement. What a great way to spend your life work, helping others and supporting them. We should never underestimate the influence that we can have in our students lives. It should be something that we think about often because the rest of the world is not. The world wants to chew them up, but we can inspire. I know that it all sounds idealistic, but it is true, we really can inspire and make a difference in thousands of lives.

We should keep this in mind when we get down throughout the year and start to doubt our purpose.



Filed under Teaching Discoveries

4 responses to “What is your life work?

  1. Maria Ploof

    Hi Thomas,

    Just wondered if you have seen THE LAST LECTURE given by Randy Pausch, a (now former) professor at Carnegie Mellon. Talk about inspirational! Yes, teachers make a difference. Randy P. was definitely making a difference before he found out he was dying of cancer, he just turned it into a greater opportunity to do so. (If life gives you lemons, …)


  2. thomasyoung


    Thank you so much for the comment. I have not heard of Randy Pausch, but I will have to look into his work. I saw that the Last Lecture is on youtube. It is crazy the cards that people are dealt in life and as a young man I often wonder what will unfold for me. Do you ever think about stuff like that?

  3. Maria Ploof

    I don’t know how “young” you are, but I am more “young at heart”. I am in my early 50’s and this September will only be my 3rd year of teaching high school Spanish. I like to say I have the “look” of experience and the enthusiasm of a “newbie”, so I have certainly had time to “think about stuff like that”. From my side of the age fence, I realize that I will not have as many years to teach as someone coming right out of college, so I really want to make those years count. This truly is my life work. That is part of what has drawn me to TPRS. My first year of teaching was conventional, my 2nd year I tried to incorporate TPRS but became discouraged midway through and gave it up, and now coming into my 3rd year I am trying to figure this out anew. I am convinced that it is the way to go, it’s just difficult to convince others (parents, teachers, administrators, and even students) – but I do believe the change is coming and I want to be part of/ready for it.


  4. thomasyoung

    I know exactly what you mean. I am in my 20s, but I really want to make the years count, too. That is great that you are giving TPRS a shot again. Have you checked out Ben Slavic’s stuff? He has a way of describing TPRS that really makes it a lot easier. There are so many different forms of TPRS, but Ben really focuses on the core elements, rather than the traditional steps. I really like this because it allows a teacher to sort of mold TPRS into who they are as a teacher rather than worrying about the materials and what step they are on.
    Keep pressing on and I hope that everything goes well in the upcoming year. We can stay in touch about discoveries that we make. I am sure that there are things that you have learned that I could benefit from.
    Thanks, again, for the comments. I always love hearing the stories that teachers have.

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