Friday, June 13, 2008

Six down, some more to go.

How many more? I'm not sure.

Today was the last day of classes for the kiddies, which has me tickled quite pink (i.e., pinker than my normal pasty-ass Nordic/Celtic hue). Next week they write their exams, I mark 'em, I fill out their report card stuff, spend the next few days cleaning up stuff and preparing for September, and... well... two months of sleeping in, watching baseball games in exotic locations, heading off to Saskatoon for a few days, and doing a whole bunch of generalized goofing-off.

I know what you might be thinking:

Hey, jerkface! Nice gig you got there, with your two months off every summer. I wish I had two months off every summer, two weeks at Christmas, and a week in March!

A four-pronged retort usually accompanies observations such as this.
  1. If you do your job right, you're thoroughly burnt-out by the end of classes in mid-June. You're supposed to give your all for your kids; most of my colleagues do, and we're pretty out-of-gas by the time exams roll around.
  2. Besides, what are you going to do, keep the kids in school 12 months a year? I don't see that happening anytime soon.
  3. Our holidays always coincide with when the kids are off. This means we can only travel during peak periods, when everything is double the price. And no, we can't just "take a week in November" — it just doesn't work that way.
  4. If teaching is such a sweet, cushy gig with kickass holidays and a comfy pension, you are much more than welcome to join our ranks.

    ...what's that? Not so crazy about being locked in rooms with two dozen crazed teenagers 180 times a year, and having homework most nights of your professional career? Then I suggest you re-think your witty quip.
That being said, I really do feel like teaching is among the most fulfilling jobs a person could ever have. Since September, I've become part of the lives of over a hundred interesting, quirky, frustrating, amazing, inspirational young people, and they've become an integral part of mine, too. The classic perspective of teaching being primarily a one-way street — transmit the knowledge from your brain to theirs, sit down and shut up, "write this down in your copybooks" — could not be further from the truth. I've learned so much from students over the years, it pretty much boggles my mind sometimes... and, coming from such a small, relatively isolated part of rural southwestern Ontario, believe me, I had a lot to learn.

At any rate, less gushing and more drinking. Bottoms-up! I survived another one.

ADDENDUM: This is extremely interesting. Link courtesy of frequent site-contributor ECB.

1 comment:

Efrique said...

Thanks JTL, ECB for the kind words and the pointer to my article. (I noticed I was suddenly getting a small pile of hits from over here, and on an old post what's more. I came over to see what caused that.)

I sympathize with the "two months off" nonsense. If it was so easy, you'd have to wonder why the market isn't flooded with teachers. I even had a version of it from a new research student of mine - she was saying that after going out into industry, she wanted to come back to university to work as an academic. She referred to it as "semi-retirement"! And then wondered why I laughed so hard. (I pointed out that I went back to industry from academia because the work hours were shorter, and the pay was twice as good. Nowadays on the strength of a number of visiting fellowships and some casual teaching I manage to keep my finger in the academic pie, but I'm not tempted to try to make it a career again; I think teaching in school would be much more difficult.)