Most of us are neither. We live quietly, mostly minding our own business, working to meet our needs. We care for our families and hope to make the world better. My niche in that world satisfies me and helps others. I fix things.
I came along at the right time. We are surrounded by mountains of things that don’t work any more. I fix some of them.
Fixing what doesn’t work has been my lifelong passion. Good thing, too. I became a teacher and counselor after deciding that stamping out ignorance was a way to help people fix themselves. But since teaching is less financial security than guaranteed poverty, fixing things saved me from repair bills. Yet that was not a cause.
My urge to fix things came from within. I am drawn to anything that needs repair the same way others seek travel, sports or parties. That makes me useful, but not very interesting.
I wondered how I got this way, and decided it’s how I see the world. Where others see their surroundings as whole objects like cars and houses, I see assembled parts. My mind takes everything apart.
I am mostly happy. But there is a down side.
I get irritated by things that are made to be sold, not used. We buy them, lured by an evolved form of lying known as salesmanship. When these things stop working, they are hard to fix.
I hate manuals for assembly and use. I prefer common sense.
Quality that we were promised but seldom arrived, has a simple definition: Does whatever you bought work? How well and how long? Quality requires positive answers, which also rarely arrives. Price is unrelated.
My worst enemies are misuse, neglect, bad manufacture, bungled repairs, rust, dust, and human “grunge” like sweat, food particles and loose hair. They almost always arrive with something to fix.
Helpful suggestions, like “Here, let me show you...”, “Why can’t you just...” and “The thing you need to do is...” aren’t much better.
Do I, can I fix people? I don’t really know, even after thirty-six years in small-town public secondary education, as teacher or counselor.
I only worked on the thinking part of people Fixing (changing) them involved an often frustrated attempt to inspire young people to use their awesome gift of mental potential to learn and to become. A formidable barrier arose from the outset
First, we as a country may know what we need schools to do, but stubbornly continue a 19th century industrial model, with long rows of students facing a teacher, working through a textbook until a bell rings and students advance to another room and more rows and another textbook. Incredibly, some students learn, and some teachers succeed in lighting the inspirational fire of curiosity, without which most “book learning” lacks application.
Based on experience and thinking, I believe that public schools are a national disappointment. The needed components of money and dedicated people are there. It’s all about how they are assembled and used. That’s where we have gone wrong. We must start over, basing all our decisions on our country’s needs. Only then we will get successful schools.