When I commenced full time permanent work (after 10 years of part-time or non-permanent work!) in 1974 I had to sign various documents. There was one I remember clearly. It referred to the date of my retirement in mid 2015 – July 28th to be exact. At the time I thought the date a ridiculously long way away. More immediately I was looking forward to teaching Orwell’s ‘1984’ in 1984. Even those 10 years seemed like a lifetime. Incidentally I never got that chance because I was in church ministry by that time.
But today that date has arrived. My wife sang a sleepy happy birthday to me as I headed to school, the staff at school sang their rendition and a year 11 student left a delicious cake on my desk … and not only hasn’t that retirement arrived but I am glad it hasn’t. I haven’t been a victim of the raised retirement age, but rather, since the removal of the compulsory retirement age many years ago I am now free to continue working.
One of the benefits of being a teacher is that students keep you young and connected. Their enthusiasm for life, their idealism and their sense of justice is a great antidote to cynicism and tiredness. Even today my Literature class and I had an ’ah ha’ moment which sent a shiver up my spine. I cast my memory back to the ‘old’ teachers of my childhood. Some were great and, I now realise, some were desperate to get out of a profession that they felt trapped in. I thank God that I am one of the former.
I must confess that I am looking forward to Long Service leave later this year. But I am also looking forward to more teaching – Lord Willing.
P.S. In what other profession can you dress up like Cervantes and not feel like a total chump!