Friday, April 20, 2012

Which Is Worth More? and/or Multi-Potentiality

On Thursday, I was subbing at a high school not too far from where I live and after the class was done with the lesson, I got to talking with the students. The subject of after school jobs came up and how much money the students had to spend on various things. One girl said that she made a bit over $11.00 an hour at her job, which was a fairly easy one, according to her. Most of the time she just got to sit and play games on her phone, while occasionally helping customers.

Of course, then I got to thinking: How much do I get paid an hour? The subbing jobs vary in length, even the ones that are supposedly for a "full day". I get paid either for a full day or a half day. Full days, depending on the school district pay $90.00, $94.50, or $95.00. The job that day was for 7.5 hours, with 30 minutes for lunch. So, 7.0 hours @ $94.50 per day. So I get $13.50 per hour. After 4 years of undergraduate education, two master's degrees, and virtually all of a Ph.D., except the final signature, I am making barely more than a high school kid. And, by no stretch of the imagination would I characterize subbing as "easy".

Why don't I get a "real" job? Part of it has to do with multi-potentiality. I am good at a lot of things. I am especially good at learning stuff, so I kept wanting to go back to schools to learn more. And, as I did, I also tried out jobs that followed from the things I studied in schools. But each time, the thing that fascinated me was the learning process itself. So each time, in some way, I returned to teaching. I have taught everything from pre-school through grad school, from beginning swimming through computer modelling of proteins. But now, I am virtually unemployable. I am too old, I have too many degrees, my experiences are all different from what would be expected of someone who is looking for the positions I seek, and I don't exactly have a dedicated career path.

I enjoy subbing, actually. It is terribly hard some days, boring some days, but I like the variety and the challenge. But most of all, I enjoy analyzing all of the parameters of the job. How does this school compare to that school? What difference does socio-economics make? What about the linguistic background of the students? Why are the teachers friendly at one school and completely stand-offish at another school? Which curricula do I like? Which seem to work better for the students?

Years ago, my own children complained that I "had to analyze everything". I guess, yes, they are right. And subbing gives me a chance to analyze a lot of things. I just wish I made more money than a clerk in a pet store.

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