Monday, 9 January 2017

Week 1: Not like riding a bicycle

Last week was the first time since 1972 that I did not have to go to school. I finally left school. Possibly to return in the near future. Maybe. But I think that school left me first so I guess we are even.
I will miss school. No, I will not miss school. I will miss the students. And my colleagues. I will miss my open door policy and all the queries, chats, laments, confessions, complaints, accusations, rants that it encouraged and legitimised in the intimate context of speaker and listener, a transient and momentary complicity that validated teachers' feelings and made individuals visible.
I would like to blog about my unrequited love for school but it would sound contrived with resonances from The Sorrows of Young Werther; The Sorrows of a Middle-Aged Educator or Kafka on the Shore; Dr A. on the Bike.. It would be a reading chore, a bore, to rehash the cliched give-and-take discourse, the journey-vs-the-destination argument, the individualist/collectivist debate. But I do love school. I did and I do love school that is a reincarnated, a reimagined town square where citizens come together with their unique voices in symphony to articulate a future vision, to heal and to foster love for peace, respect and equality. 
Now I will take a break from the education of others and invest in the education of my self. The last time my life was focused solely and entirely on *my* education was in my twenties. And back then the existential angst and the fear of living conspired to withhold the climax of the lust for learning and awareness. I will relish catching up with the news over coffee in the morning and I will read voraciously. I will maintain my professional role and persona without the anxiety and the desperation of a broken heart. After half a century on this wretched earth I feel I have license to stop and ponder and reflect on and mull over events, sensations, ideas, thoughts and feelings.
One of my resolutions during this period of suspended activity, uninterrupted introspection and undisturbed focus is to blog about my readings and about education. The last couple of weeks I read Elizabeth Jane Howard's The Cazalet Chronicles, Gloria Steinem's My Life on the Road and Olivia Laing's The Trip to Echo Spring, but Brain Pickings is already out there and I do not feel ready yet to give the experience the physical dimension of language. Suffice it to say it has been profoundly delightful and rewarding, but it has not been easy to return to a mental state of complete detachment from schedule, routine, and work, to practise immersive attention and to fend off the sirens of connectivity.
Still, the most significant accomplishment of my first week off school has been to fall off my stationary bike. A laughable incident indeed, but totally predictable considering I was trying to climb on it while holding my Kindle in a way that I would not touch the screen and lose my place. To what extent is a huge bruise on my thigh more threatening and painful than "subjective dispersal and discontinuity"? 

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