Strange man in a strange land




Do you ever find yourself looking around you wondering how you got there and how to escape? That’s exactly how I feel about my job these days. It’s almost like some kind of outer-body experience where you know you are there, you can even hear yourself talking and engaging with the class but your heart and mind are somewhere else. I think if I had to sum up this year in a feeling that would be the one.

There was a moment this time last year when the first stirrings of itchy feet really kicked in. A change was needed as I felt I was getting stale in my teaching and wanted a new setting and set of circumstances to teach in – as we all do in our spheres of work, a change being as good as a rest. I went for an interview at another school and just didn’t feel any connection to the job or the building at all – I put it down to just that experience and didn’t think anything else of it. Then this year came and I went for another interview, but still no passion or buzz or connection or anything really. The interview was flat and I didn’t get it.

Then the college came along and I thought that this was a different place, with different expectations and skills from me to bring – more to learn and develop and improve myself with. So when offered the position I took it – this would be the new direction I needed to bring my energy back and my passion for teaching. I saw out my time at my last job in the same way I had the rest of my time there and headed off to a new beginning.

In this Brave new world Huxley’s observation that “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored” became true very quickly. I had forgotten or ignored the real reason for the need for change – it wasn’t the place, it was the job. I love teaching and there is part of me that would sit in a classroom for the rest of my days working with students of all ages, but there’s a bigger part who wants to do something else. A real challenge a different vision – yes use the same skills and develop new ones but just not in academia. The fact was the job was and is no longer what I want to do – that didn’t change because I was doing it somewhere else.

There is so little to be positive about these days in schools and colleges with the constant tinkering and interference from both those in power outside the institution and from some of those inside it. CfE is a huge disaster waiting to happen and I cannot believe we have reached this stage of it without someone shouting “But he’s got no clothes on!” in public. There are a generation of kids who are being let down by a government who refuse to acknowledge the mistakes that are being made – even now as we speak there are huge issues being ignored by them and not being brought up by unions or teachers to do with benchmarks & standards.

College has provided me with some great colleagues and people that I know I would be great friends with beyond these walls if I stayed long-term, but there are issues here too – many of which I can’t really go into and probably shouldn’t. Either way I don’t feel differently about the job and that’s the important point. It’s time to move on, and as I reach the end of my tenth year in teaching from when I started college I know I have to move on or be stuck here with regrets.

Can I see myself doing this in ten year’s time? No. Where do I want to move on to? I don’t know, but that to me is fascinating and opens things up for me in so many ways. There is a whole bag of skills I have only delved into within teaching, some with the band and others through other work and personal experiences that I’d love to follow up and see developed and used. I need that passion back and at this point in time that place is not in education.

So I sit here as if I am looking at myself from across the room surrounded by these institutionally grey walls, trapped in a place where the job will be done but without the pleasure and passion I once had for it. That’s existing; it’s not enough for me anymore – I need to live.


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