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Those who can, do it

by: Marcus J Freed - Last updated: 2007-06-21

Marcus J Freed

Marcus J Freed

It’s a bit unfair, the old maxim that ‘those who can, do, those who can’t teach. That’s not to say that every school doesn’t include a small roster of semi-talented people who wouldn’t get employed anywhere else, but these are increasingly the exception.

I’ve had my fair share of McJobs like any self-respecting generation-X’er, ranging from call-centre drudgery to mind-numbing extra work on the set of Eastenders, but it only the education arena that actually sends shivers down my spine.

Last week took me to Lake Balaton in Hungary where I was teaching Bibliyoga, my fusion of Judaism and exercise that aims to challenge narrow-minded views of Jewish practice and explore what lies beyond the boring stuff that we were taught in Sunday school.

It’s always fascinating working with communities from Eastern Europe and the Baltic states as they bring a freshness and vibrant line of questioning that’s rarely found in the UK. The Jews from these regions are considered ‘double-victims’, as they were affected by both the Nazis and then the communists, leaving their faith and knowledge in a major state of disrepair.

I found myself talking to David, a 21-year-old student who explained to me that he’d just found out he was Jewish, as his mother had kept it a secret for many years and he was brought up as a secular Hungarian. ‘What is this Shabbat thing?’ he asked me as the sun was setting on Friday. ‘I’m interested to know more. I don’t believe in God but I’ve got lots of questions’. I explained that the questions are more important than believing – in this world of apathy, it makes a difference when somebody cares enough to ask something.

It might not appeal to everyone, but there’s a buzz that comes with teaching. It’s about meeting people whose lives are in a moment of flux, and engaging with their minds at that point of change. It can be too easy to forget what it’s like to have basic questions, and the educator gets to experience these things all over again.  It might not be the best paid occupation, but it definitely beats the call centre.

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