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Talking about money remains problematic, but this conversation topic is more for self-reflection than classroom application. But please bear with me.
How rich are you? How much money would satisfy you? Americans, and many other people in consumer societies, sometimes seem to be pursuing a moving mirage of material happiness. The luxuries of one year become the perceived necessities the next year.
English teachers – and English language learners – are not immune to this problem. How rich are you on a strictly material level? Where do you stand from a global scale? ESL teachers continue to work part-time or hold two jobs, or even tutor English for extra cash. The economic crisis has only increased the sense of unease for many English teachers and English students.
Yet for Americans and English teachers feeling rather blue about our declining home values, vanishing retirement accounts, and questionable job security, this chart provides some useful perspective.
My score initially stunned me. (I was in the top 1% worldwide). While I have often been nervous about money, this chart reminds me to keep perspective. Of course, commonsense and a growing body of psychological and sociological research has documented the very, very loose correlation between material wealth and happiness – once the basic necessities of life are met. Satisfying personal relationships, long conversations with relatives and friends, and meaningful work remain vital essential for a truly rich life. The good life, as all the wisdom traditions remind us, means more than going to sleep surrounded by luxury goods.
So let’s make sure we find ways to create healthier, saner, and more satisfying lives and English classrooms in 2009 than 2008.