I have been a teacher for nigh on nine years – a magical number, divisible by itself, one, three and other numbers. In this time I have had the enormous privilege of seeing the tide of the teaching year on enough occasions to have enabled me to achieve my current zen-like state of typing on a keyboard having drunk several small bottles of lager whilst contemplating the enormous sandbox of possibility that stretches out ahead of the teacher as he or she is spilled into the summer break.
It is my observation, contention – theory, if you will – that teachers broadly fit into three, no four groups, according to how their personality is shaped by having precious access to this ‘dream time’ of extended leisure.
The way in which like butterflies we are borne upon the winds of a six-week break during peak-time holiday bookings defines us and boxes us into one of these four, no three groups. Read on and most assuredly you will find yourself somewhere amongst these words or the spaces between (or indeed around or before) them.
1. Bacchus, rather like an early Super Furry Animal, simply doesn’t give a fuck. He, she or me simply drinks, smokes, binge-watches Netflix or trolls Ken Robinson on Twitter all the way through the summer break, without compunction, conscience or contrition. Bacchus, beast-like, lives from hand to mouth. In any case, he has already planned the first week back. So there.
2. Icarus is flighty, spending his or her leisure time frantically striving for crumbs of self-actualization. Whether that be novel-writing, learning to play the ocarina or teaching his/her children how to ride a bicycle. Icarus knows that this summer break is a fleeting time – sand rushing downward at the speed of light – that must be used not simply in a utilitarian way, but spiritually too. The summer break represents, for Icarus, the annual shot at either social, cultural or spiritual mobility.
3. Cinderella probably has to either mop up after Bacchus or humour Icarus. He must spend his summer break shuttling offspring back and forth, providing light entertainment, resolving conflict, cooking, cleaning, bottom-wiping – the whole (s)hebang. Essentially, there is no work/life dichotomy for Cinderella. Only flow.
4. Buddha doesn’t think or write about his holidays – he’s been there, done it and bought the loincloth. He has been a Bacchus, quaffing Quattro and Ouzo; an Icarus, fretting over chapter 1 of ‘I, Teacher‘; strangely, he has never been a Cinderella; but he is (most self-regardingly) a Buddha. He’ll nod slowly and sagely at anything you say to him – just don’t expect him to take any notes or be able to summarize or infer from what you’ve just said to him. And, no, he hasn’t started planning yet. (He’s not above getting tetchy about it.)
What you’ll perhaps surmise from the above typology, is that only one of them makes good sense. Buddha, whilst allowing himself to sail through the summer break with serenity, is most likely to be pestering you on day one for the photocopier code. Cinderella is tempting, for although his life is hard, he does at least not have time to reflect upon it. Icarus is, if nothing, a striver; but he gets more insufferable (panic-stricken in his underpants, blowing hysterically into the echo chamber of his new ukelele) as we get closer to the zero hour of the next school year.
This leaves us with only one logical course of action; one only category left – the choice of champions.
Enjoy your break guiltlessly and, for a time, wear your crown of grapes with pride. By all means play the ocarina, mop up after loved ones or find your zone; but, above all and for a time, do what you will, with no heaviness nor fear of the passing of time.
For a time, you are not a teacher.
[and is damned]