Am I a Public Intellectual?

When I hear the term “Public Intellectual”, I think of someone who is very smart, has a lot of worldly knowledge, and knows what is going on in politics, education, health, etc. Do I consider myself a public intellectual? I am not so sure. I think I am smart, but smart can mean so many things. I think to be a public intellectual it means that you influence many citizens with your knowledge or words, which is true in my case as a teacher (or will be true soon). I also think that they would be strong-willed and have strong political views, which is definitely not true for me.

I found a definition of a public intellectual from the Collins Dictionary:
Public Intellectual: an intellectual, often a noted specialist in a particular field, who has become well-known to the general public for a willingness to comment on current affairs.

In that case, I do not see myself as a public intellectual. However, I think that I may be a public intellectual in my environment. I am not well known to the general public, but once I am in a school teaching I will be well known in the school; to the students, parents, and possibly the community. I am willing to comment on current education affairs, studies, strategies and so on, but I do not feel prepared to comment on political affairs in any way shape or form. I often avoid the news and don’t like confrontation. I think those two things I don’t particularly enjoy must be important to an actual public intellectual. I also don’t view myself as a specialist. I am still learning what it means to be a teacher, and how best to apply my knowledge as a teacher. I am not an expert!

The students in the classroom deserve the best. That is what I believe. Is the best having a teacher that is a public intellectual? Perhaps. Or in a way, a loosely defined public intellectual as opposed to the Collins Dictionary definition. I believe I will be demonstrating values, ideas, and opinions that I have; if that is so, then I could be a public intellectual in my classroom setting.

I think there may be some teachers who are public intellectuals, but that is not me. Perhaps it will be something I can define myself as in the future, but definitely not right now, especially according to Collins Dictionary.


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