Do you think you’re going to be coming home with gold?
BG: Well, I’m feeling up, I think I have a good chance, but I’m not after gold, but to be the best teacher I can. And of course, now that education is such a high-paying profession, there’s stiff competition. All the best minds go into this field now.
Int: Yes, recent surveys reveal that teachers are the most admired profession, along with writers, philosophers, doctors, artists, and helping professions in general.
BG: Yes, that is gratifying. Things have really changed for the better since the Great Shift of 2009. People all over the world basically said enough is enough to the financial-political oligarchy that was at the helm, and ran the economy into the ground. People realized that an informed, educated populace is the cornerstone of a healthy democracy and economy. People need to learn critical-thinking skills, to know when arguments appeal to the emotions or fear; to recognize false arguments such as attacking the person instead of their ideas; or giving false choices or a false dilemma; for example, you’re either with us or against us, or the only alternative to capitalism is socialism. So since this sort of critical thinking is so vital to a healthy democracy, top quality education is likewise viewed as essential.
Int: And do you think the high salaries that educators now command have helped that.
BG: It’s a excellent start, but by no means does just throwing money at a problem automatically solve it. But I have to say as an educator I’m glad that I no longer lead a precarious hand-to-mouth existence. Now I own a nice home. I can put money aside for a rainy day. I have some nice things like a carbon fiber racing bike. I don’t have to work 24/7 so I have more time to explore other interests. And of course the fact that we have free universal healthcare, excellent public education and inexpensive public transport also improve the quality of living.
Int: Tell me Blade of Grass, do you think that our current form of mild capitalism is the best bet in the long run.
BG: Absolutely. No doubt about it. The current form of capitalism is a world better than the cut-throat competition that got us into that ugly financial mess back in 2009. Businesses are no longer “too big to fail”, which encourages greater responsibility. We’re now seeing smaller local economies, which don’t require large amounts of energy, so they’re more ecological, better for the environment. And instead of encouraging Darwinist competition, the focus now is on collaboration. There’s more sense of community and belonging, so people are less stressed. They feel safer, and just happier.
Int: You make it sound like a panacea.
BG: No, of course it’s not that. We’ve still got troubles. For example, we’re still paying off the debts that were accumulated during the years of neo-liberal profligacy and greed, and still trying to clean up the environment as well. And there are still some homeless people about. In fact the other day I bumped into an ex-student of mine, who was begging! I remember he had a lazy mind and an amazing lack of curiosity, and was arrogant as they get, like the world owed him a living. He was a sort of frat boy alcoholic. Let’s see, what was his name? Oh yeah, Jorge Arbusto.
Int: So did you give him any money?
BG: Fat chance! I told him to get his butt back in school and start using some elbow grease, and pull himself up by his bootstraps!
Int: Weren’t you a little hard on him?
BG: I don’t think so. With his attitude, it’s not surprising he’s on the street. He’s just lucky he’s around now when we have good social safety nets for losers like him.
Int: Tell me, has becoming rich and famous changed you?
BG: Well, like I said, the financial well-being is gratifying, but ironically I think my period of greatest growth came during the lean times when we were at the mercy of our employers, who in turn were at the mercy of the economy. What I mean is it’s during crises when we have to rethink our beliefs. Difficult circumstances force us to get out of our boxes, consider other possibilities, find new solutions, to grow. Now I’m enjoying prosperity, but sooner or later the next crisis will come along and force me to rethink things yet again. This is life as I see it.
Int: Interesting. Tell me Blade of Grass, why do you use a sobriquet instead of your real name?
BG: Well, that trend was started by a TEFL teacher / entrepreneur in Madrid, who became famous for his radio station. Anyway, I suppose for education superstars it does lend a certain mystique. And I guess it does vaguely say something about me. I think I’m one to see the world in a grain of sand, or in a blade of grass! Then again, people used to call me “thin as a rail”, so maybe it just morphed from that.
Int: Oh OK, so who’s your favorite actress and actor?
BG: That’s hard to say, I mean I’m friends with Julia Roberts, Woody Allen, Brad Pitt, but I’m especially tight with Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, both of whom are obviously top actors. Javier is just brilliant, and Penelope, besides being gorgeous, stands out for how much she’s grown artistically. I relate to that because I feel I’ve grown a lot as well, in my case in the field of education. I wasn’t a child prodigy. I guess I’m a late bloomer, getting better slowly during my whole life.
Int: Oh, right. So what kind of music do you like?
BG: That’s a toughie. There’s so much wonderful music out there, from Bach to Grant Green (a jazz guitarist). But just now I was thinking of Imagine, by John Lennon. I like it because, though it may seem naive, it has an important message. If we want to live in a better world, the first step is to imagine it. Actually I think our creative imagination is our spiritual being at work. So we first conceive the idea, then work towards it, then give birth to it; and even then it will only come about if it’s in accordance with the will of a higher power, or Spirit. At least that’s how I see it.
Int: Right. Well, that about wraps it up for today. So thanks for coming Blade. Good luck in the Education Olympics. And this has been, well, educational.
BG: Right. Thanks for having me.