I Teach Engineering Classes Now (What?)

You heard me.

I am now a professor of Engineering, and you can call me Sir.

Yeah, I’m teaching Elementary Schoolers. Am I smart enough to be an Engineer? Absolutely. Would the way that math and I get along result in much suffering? I shudder to think.

So, I’m one of two teachers in a class full of twenty 1st-5th graders, and we teach them about chain reactions using engineering kits. Mostly my duties consist of maintaining discipline and answering questions, but oh, is it a joy.

They’re all quivering with eagerness. Guys, girls. Jumping up and down, straining in their seats, exclaiming, “We are useful engineers!” Their eyes glow. They sparkle. Yesterday they did belt testing, and they had to work through a problem on their own to try to earn a white and yellow “belt.” Six different tables, all huddled, all working hard… It was amazing to see them take the pieces and create stuff that actually worked, without being taught. Like little adults, making decisions that I in my ignorance wouldn’t have assumed them capable of. The third-youngest table, all 1st graders, finished first. One by one the rest of them all earned their yellow belt, and then with only one minute left, the littlest group made their machine work, and they shrieked.

I’m supposed to stop shrieking. I know, I know. But that triumph, their faces lit as if they’d just accomplished the impossible… I relished that scream.

Sure, it’s herding cats. Sure my throat’s hoarse and prickly after making sure they hear their instructions before they start. Yes, I look up and the clock and think, “Whoa, ten minutes have passed already? Only half an hour to go!” But at the end of the day, the confidence on these kid’s faces, especially, I confess, the girls, who are not being told (as I was) that they won’t be as good at math because they’re a girl–

it’s priceless.






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