Saturday, July 24, 2010

Retreat from the World


Summer Retreat


In Ireland we say that the main reasons for being a secondary school teacher are June, July and August. Having been a teacher for thirty years now, 1980 – 2010 I have long experience of the benefits of those months. These benefits have, invariably for me, made up for the various shortcomings of the said profession, namely very moderate pay (which I personally have little problem with), recalcitrant teenagers (with whom we all have problems), complexity of the work in the twenty-first century where the teacher is expected to be father, mother, social worker, psychologist, if not psychiatrist, and a host of other things to the modern teenager as well as writing up all the termly and weekly plans required for good teaching, and then setting and correcting homework and exams. Then, of course, there are the inevitable cutbacks which have had disastrous effects on education: growing class sizes, less Special Needs Assistants for SEN students and many poor and inadequate buildings. Now, having got that off my chest, I feel that I deserve my three months to recharge my batteries before “resuming hostilities” on the last week in August – to use a rather military metaphor used by an esteemed colleague.

I am doubly lucky to have a summer retreat down in the South of Italy (which I share with my two brothers) where I do little else besides eating, sleeping, drinking gorgeous wine, reading novels, philosophy and psychology (my two favourite subjects as the numbers beside the relevant tags will indicate) and then attempting to write poems in the Irish and English languages, write entries to various blogs which I attempt to keep going. I also spend my time looking at DVDs of films I have missed in the cinema as well as learning more of the beautiful Italian language. Consequently, I very seldom think of my workaday world at all until I walk back into my classroom.

I call tyhe above picture, taken by my brother Gerard a few days ago, Buddha on the Beach.  Perhaps a Beached Buddha would be a better description!

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