For the first time in my ten years of teaching I didn’t teach summer school or take an additional qualification this summer. I did build a deck that you can land a helicopter on, restore a motorbike I found in a field and travelled across most of Ontario, but I’ve been far away from thinking about teaching.
What have I learned from my summer of George? I’d be a very good retired person. I’m seldom idle, I love learning new things and resolving engineering challenges. I get a great deal of satisfaction in taking something broken and making it work. Mechanical sympathy has always led me into technology, I tend toward an empathetic connection with machines. I also enjoy working with my head and hands in concert (not just one or the other). I spent the summer practising the engineering process, perhaps I can take a more active modelling role in the lab in order to keep that experience alive (for myself as well as for my students).
The writing didn’t slow down, it just changed focus. Putting experience into words allows me to meditate on that experience and clarify my thinking about it. It’s nice to know that whatever I’m doing, writing is a natural response to it.
I’m now in the process of re-engaging with teaching. Empathy tends to lead me in this as well, though I find the irrationality and randomness of dealing with people exhausting and frustrating in comparison to the simple honesty of machines. The education system is all about people, from the social complexities of dealing with fellow teachers and administration to the hugely varied psychology of students, it’s a complex system that is more about fecundity than resolution.
After a summer of making things work I’m most anxious about returning to a process that is often irrational, opaque and unsolvable.
Once more into the breach dear friends…