Staff Goobye: The Questions Every Teacher Hears

By: Mr. Boothman
AFHS Math Teacher

As a teacher, I get a lot of questions.

The two most common questions I hear, however, have little to do with trigonometry or differential equations. Rather, they get at deeper truths about our lives and have helped inform the way I teach and the way I live. I’d like to share them with you, as well as how I answer them.

The first: “why did you decide to be a teacher?”

Photo Credit: Carlos Johnson

I didn’t always have a good answer to this question. I kind of fell into teaching, having started college with the hopes of being a physicist and quickly realizing I wanted to do something (anything) else. I switched my major to math and had a vague idea that I would teach, and over the following years, it just started to make sense to me.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had been teaching in some way my entire life. It’s just who I am. I could make more money doing something else, living somewhere else, yet this is my passion. This is me. I firmly believe that, above just about everything else, you should pursue your passion in life. You’ll still experience stress and difficult days, but ultimately you realize you’re doing what you love, and that makes everything else okay.

The second question: “why do we have to study this?”

Every teacher has heard this at some point. I have an answer (in short: every class we take offers us an invaluable skill. Math teaches us how to think, how to persevere and problem solve, in a way that no other subject can), but it almost doesn’t matter to me that there is an answer.

Why must something have a practical purpose for us to care about it? Why can’t we simply appreciate the beauty of a well-structured poem, a pivotal moment in history, an underlying scientific truth, or even an elegant mathematical proof? That beauty, found in each and every subject we ever study, as well as the art and culture and recreation with which we fill our time, gives meaning to our lives. It is that beauty which makes our lives worth living.

As you graduate and begin your life beyond Agua Fria, take the time to look for that beauty around you, in whatever career you choose, in the people you share your life with, and in yourself. Make the world a more beautiful place. Make your life worth living, just as so many of you have made mine.