The Catch 22 in Education

For those who are a part of the education system because they actually believe they have the ability to make a difference they are faced with a very hefty choice almost every day.  That choice is to dive in whole heartedly and become emotionally invested in the lives of the people you get to work with everyday or to keep your interactions superficial.

One of these choices is safe, the other is not.

One of these choices is effective, the other is not.

One of these choices changes you and those around you, the other does not.

The choice is of course up to you, but here is my struggle, my catch 22 in education.  If we choose to dive in and become emotionally invested then we are opening up to the possibility of deep lacerations from highly charged emotions every single day.  These are wounds that don’t seal up in a matter of minutes, even though we put on the professional face and head right into the next class.  They tend to linger and carry into the night, into the times when our emotional attention should be at its peak with our families.

These are the wounds that tend to be there for most of our future interactions with that individual and directly effect how we approach them.  Some of this change in approach is a protection mechanism and is needed to stay afloat. However, it also has a tendency to close the door on the reward side of this risk/reward equation.  Tough choice right!


Of course there is the possibility that when we dive in and choose to become emotionally invested that we will be successful and change the trajectory of someones life.  This is the madness in this whole thing.  We have a finite amount of emotional energy but without taking the risk and diving in we can rest assured that this life changing event is probably not going to happen.

See, when we dive in we are willing to connect with our students and colleagues.

We are willing to do more in order to challenge the status quo.

We are willing to handle the higher stress level that automatically comes with redefining a system or process.

We are willing to change and adjust our own trajectory if that is what is required.

We are willing to fail if it means that we can learn to succeed in a different way.

Unfortunately this high level of engagement  is often at an intensity level that cannot be maintained for very long.  We start to sacrifice consistency for intensity and short circuit our long term success as educators.

I wish I had the perfect formula for balance in regards to this relationship, but I don’t.  I know I do see a lot of people on both sides of the spectrum and there are issues with both.  I also know that being a part of education means we get to do work that matters, actually matters.

So many lines of work are so far downstream from the people we get to affect it is difficult to keep our “why” in perspective.  This is not the case in education, we get to interact everyday, all day, almost every minute!

Maybe we need some superhero powers to draw upon in order to make the choice to be fully invested in the school setting and still have a full tank to do the essential work outside of our schools.  When you find the secret, let me know.

For now I will keep diving in, run as fast as I can, keep a proper perspective, and affect as many as possible, with my family first on that list.

Until next time, keep living healthy, diving in yourself and enjoy the fact that you get to do work that matters!  As always head over to for personal and family resources, and check out our resources page here on The Healthy Educator as well!