Three million, six hundred and twenty eight thousand, eight hundred seconds to rediscover my soul. That’s six short weeks in old money; more commonly known as ‘the school holidays’.
Childhood saw endless summer sun and time froze on the day we broke up from school. Six weeks IS a very long time to a child and as the freedom stretches before them a wonderful world of adventure opened up.
Funny thing the memory. Mine recorded a real change as I went through secondary school. The rain I don’t remember at primary duly arrived in the first, last and intermittently throughout the other four weeks. The heatwave always seemed to explode upon me in the first three weeks back at school in September, which was made worse by being motionless at a boring desk on a bloody hard wooden chair and staring vacantly at algebra that may as well have been ancient hieroglyphics I was meeting for the first time. The classroom windows only let heat in, not out.
Then at sixteen I took a twenty three year sabbatical from the routine of school holidays; except that I married a teacher and saw the heated debate of ‘the school holidays are too long’ from both sides at once. I had a railway career that ended in nineteen ninety four and during that time our two children arrived and after they started school my wife went back to teaching.
The nineties saw the whole spectrum played out in my life. I even left the railways in September of nineteen ninety four to go taxi driving for a year. What did I end up doing for the firm? School runs!
After getting my qualifications at A level at the grand old age of forty I entered university and studied for a teaching degree. The Noughties saw two teachers in the house and finally I got to experience the argument from the most testing angle…..the inside.
Let me tell you now! Teaching is about ten percent ‘chalk face’ and ninety percent slogging to get there and stay there. When I was at school we copied for hours the stuff the teacher was copying themselves from a book. Then some idiot had the bright idea of engaging the young person’s mind and making it interesting, which I am totally for, but it takes time to research, plan and prepare both the lesson and the resources; not to mention evaluating, changing and assessing the actual learning a child does.
I have just retired from teaching (we both have) and even now I get the sheer sense of relief and a longing for that first day never to end. Now, I shall travel the trains in September minus the hordes of children turning the seats into assault courses and threatening what I have left of my hearing.
Anyone who trots out that tired phrase ‘Teachers have too many holidays’ get the same curt response “Oh really! Why don’t you try it for a few years…then come back to me!” Even though I won’t be going back I will forever be bound to the cycle.
Right now I am on day one of rediscovering living and the soul I denied for so long. I am one of the lucky ones to have seen and felt all sides and would not change a minute. We all have a stake in their futures and I am proud to have been part of it.