8 Ways Teaching Is Like Being Stranded in the Wilderness

8 Ways Teaching Is Like Being Stranded in the Wilderness

I recently spent several days backpacking across the Utah wilderness miles from civilization. As I trudged over mountains and streams, I started to wonder what I would do if I was stranded out there. How would I survive? As I considered the many skills needed to stay alive in the middle of nowhere, it occurred to me that we as teachers are particularly suited to living off the land. Let me explain:

1. Teachers are experts at working with little resources. 

When you find yourself hopelessly lost in the wilderness, your only resources are what you brought with you. As your supplies dwindle, you must turn to foraging and scavenging to stay alive. Your average school year follows this exact same trend. You start with a huge supply of paper, pens, and freshly sharpened pencils but by the time Christmas rolls around you’re down to three pieces of loose-leaf, a dried-out ballpoint, and a pencil that has been sharpened so many times it could only be useful to an insect. Your budget money ran out months ago, so you resort to hanging around the supply closet looking for scraps, searching the floor after every class, and making back-alley deals with the computer lab for fresh paper. These skills will go a long way towards keeping your wilderness supplies stocked. 

2. Teachers can go long stretches without food or water.

Is there anything that takes longer than the time between the start of school and lunch? Educators are well accustomed to hours of continuous activity without nourishment. This would be an exceptionally useful skill when lost in the desert or the frozen tundra. By the time a lesser mortal had perished, a teacher is still going strong on that granola bar from two days ago.

3. Teachers eat fast.

Teachers are used to wolfing down meals during recess, passing periods, and absurdly short lunch breaks. When you finally find that berry bush or bring down that deer you’ve been hunting, you’ll be well-fed and long gone before any scavengers or competitors arrive. 

4. Teachers fear nothing. 

Bears, wolves, rabid chipmunks? All of these pale in comparison to that kid you had last year. You know the one. And if you got HIM to behave, what could you possibly have to fear from a ferocious grizzly bear? Anyone who can laugh in the face of the perils of the classroom will be Undisputed Master of the Forest in no time.

5. Teachers are used to technology not working. 

How many times have you tried to run a slideshow or show a video to your class and run into the dreaded “technical difficulties”?  With notoriously unreliable school internet connections, we are used to improvising on the fly when our tech goes down. If you’ve ever taught your class using old plastic overheads you dug out of a drawer, you’ll be just fine when your phone battery bites the dust.

6. Teachers can sleep anywhere.

So you were up all night planning the greatest project ever and you can barely keep your eyes open? Napping at your desk during a free period is no problem. If you have one of those tattered textbooks that was a hardcover when your school bought it 30 years ago, you even have the perfect pillow (just sanitize it first)! If you can rest there or on that shabby old couch in the teacher’s lounge, any shelter you find in the great outdoors will look like a five-star hotel to you.

7. Teachers find joy in the little things.

A good attitude is paramount to surviving in the outdoors. Being lost in the wilderness won’t provide too many opportunities for happiness, so it’s a good thing that teachers are experts at finding smiles wherever they can. The feeling of seeing a struggling student succeed for the first time can last an educator for weeks. With this same attitude, a small victory over Mother Nature will keep a lost teacher smiling long after your average human has given up hope. 

8. Teachers are accustomed to adapting to the unexpected.

There is no curve ball life can throw at a seasoned educator that they cannot handle. Tough situations are where we thrive! Heck, even a global pandemic messing up our entire way of life in a matter of days couldn’t keep us from helping our students succeed. Living in the wilderness will be full of surprises and challenges, but if you made it through the 2019-2020 school year there is nothing nature can hit you with that you won’t be ready for.

Also Check Out:

Why Teachers Would Be Excellent at Surviving in the Wilderness

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Andrew is a Jr. High Spanish teacher. He loves rock 'n roll, Chinese food and collecting military antiques. When he's not teaching teens that "¿Cómo se llama?" has nothing to do with Peruvian quadrupeds, he can be found hanging out with his family, playing drums, buying old Russian helmets and plotting the downfall of internet translation apps.

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