A bit of back story: My interest in education originally stemmed from my belief that I was good at math & science and that I'd had good teachers, so therefore I should become a teacher myself. I spent probably the first 12 years of my career talking to people about mathematics education, getting ideas, trying a few things, and flatly rejecting others. I have continually tried to improve my craft - and what it's gotten me is an ability to explain things in such a way that most students understand them while I'm telling them, but not an ability to always make that knowledge stick and/or transfer. There's a lot more I have to learn about doing that - that's the much, much harder part. I admire tremendously people who focus on knowledge "stickiness" and transfer & who help others learn how to help their students do that also (for a good starting point to find such people, just search for the hashtag #MTBoS on Twitter).
But I get easily distracted, and have lost interest in the "math education" discussions over the years by and large. They seem to be the same conversations repeated endlessly. Over time, I started wondering about the (mathematics) content itself, as conveyed by most curricula: was it what students need? What should "educated people" know? I thought back to my own experiences, and concluded (based on a sample size of, well, 1, which is never good) that a LOT of it was irrelevant to a good life by any measure.
But here's the catch: I love mathematics and physics. And I GENUINELY love teaching soon-to-be-adults in all of their confusion and messiness and silliness and, more often than many adults would give credit for, maturity and wisdom. I would not want to give that up for anything, because even if the material I'm responsible to teach them may not change their lives, perhaps the conversations we have together will. Perhaps they'll believe that they can appreciate math, even if they never "do" it. Perhaps they'll see that there are a vast array of lenses through which to view the world, and that it's important to understand that they are just as entitled to a good look at the world through the mathematical (or, I prefer, quantitative) lens as any "math genius" they know.
I have faith that this can happen - sometimes.
I live for the hope that I'll see it happen - more often.
And I also hope that my students will be charitable to me in years to come, understanding that all I ever wanted for any of them was to see a large part of human knowledge in a way that they generally do not see.