Tuesday, February 21, 2012
if you want to educate the world you must first know the meaning of the word 'educate'. the word, like many words, has latin roots. 'educate' comes from the latin word educere which means to "bring out, lead forth" and it is our jobs as educators to do so.
my life as a professional educator has taken me in many different directions both physically and geographically. which began as a duty i felt i owed to the city i took residence in during my younger years would later turn into something very fascinating.
i was originally an elementary school teacher and there was even a very brief time i considered staying in my hometown to pursue a career as a teacher there but wanderlust eventually got a firm hold of me and i found myself working in schools farther away than most people can imagine. actually my pursuits in the field of education seemed to mature in age as i did too. i have taught (in one way or another) every grade from kindergarten through high school and now i'm teaching adults in istanbul and things are continuing to prosper.
something hit me on a recent trip to the east of turkey when i visited a museum that contained heaps of artifacts from very ancient times. i began to see things through the eyes of an archaeologist and it occurred to me that i am utterly fascinated with the field. in turkey you have absolutely no choice but to be interested in history whereas this country i live in is quite literally stacked with it layer upon layer. i thought about how exciting it must be to be an archaeologist sweeping the dust off the sides of ancient monuments and i suddenly began to appreciate the work they have done. i wondered where i fit into all this and it didn't take long for me to realize that i am the missing link to this equation. i have been given a fantastic opportunity to educate the world about the fantastic curiosities of the ancient world.
the crazy thing is that we aren't taught much about ancient history in school, in fact outside of a poor briefing on the ancient greeks, the average university student hasn't really come to grips with how old civilization really is. we come to think of old civilizations in the way that we think of fantasy stories and hollywood hasn't done much to expand on this.
last winter i stepped foot in a place that has been well developed for thousands of years yet has left behind little more than a few cave dwellings and statues of tattooed curvy women with no heads. it was remarkable to me. i want to share that feeling with everybody but its no first step for a traveler to get there. it was only a few weeks ago that i walked on the shores of western turkey where the ghosts of a very advanced people still loom in the abandoned city they left behind. you almost have to touch the walls of their old houses to make this sensation real to you. somebody once lived there. somebody cooked dinner in that room. somebody gossiped about their neighbor or kissed their wife goodbye in the morning. its humbling.
these experiences connected me. i came back to istanbul with a different look on things. in the crowded streets of taksim where i live there seems to be chaos at any hour of the day (a chaos i enjoy but still a chaos). there is a world of sights and sounds and i dont think its too much to say that collectively we have pushed really far ahead of ourselves. it is inevitable that we will continue to progress as a species but i dont want to forget where we've come from. i want to learn from this and teach others because one thing is similar in every ancient civilization i've visited:
they are gone now.