Academic journal article Middle School Journal

A Profession That Matters

Academic journal article Middle School Journal

A Profession That Matters

Article excerpt

Last year, Charles Barkley, the former basketball superstar, hosted Saturday Night Live. During a break from rehearsals for the show, an interviewer asked him if he was at all nervous about performing live before a studio audience. Barkley, who is known for making provocative comments, replied that people like him-professional athletes- are just entertainers who shouldn't take their work too seriously. He went on to say there are only five professions that really matter: police officer, firefighter, soldier, doctor, and teacher.

When I heard those words, I initially thought, "Wow! Did Charles Barkley just endorse the teaching profession?" For some time after the interview, I considered Barkley's words more carefully and thought about the relationships among the professions he mentioned. Members of the first four professions save lives or put themselves in harm's way when other people are in danger. Do teachers really do that?

I was reminded of Barkley's words when I learned about the heroism of teachers and administrators during the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Educators lost their lives trying to ensure the safety of their students. As CNN reporter Ben Brumfield wrote, "What the teachers and principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School did for the children in their care could win a soldier in a war zone a Purple Heart."

Barkley's words also resonated for me when I recently learned about the ways in which many teachers in post- Katrina New Orleans made heroic efforts to meet the basic needs of their students (e.g., food, shelter, clothing, and personal hygiene), even as they were struggling to meet their own basic needs and those of their families. …

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