hree days ago, I typed and sent this tweet. I felt very strange about doing so but was soon overwhelmed by a string of lovely comments from close and more distant contacts.
Because of the freelance nature of my employment since stepping away from headship following the death of my first wife from cancer, I have had several “farewells”, each of which has offered commentaries that have been a surprise. I have always had the mantra of “just doing my job”. I could have added, “as well as possible” and, in many ways, I have worked with colleagues who have had the same approach, so it didn’t seem in any way special. Others have suggested otherwise. Perhaps I should have kept going…
In 1970-1971, after a return from Australia, I was working as a Lab Assistant for ICI at their biological research establishment in Brixham, exploring the impact of outfalls from ICI establishments. This meant visits to site, hours spent on trawlers following drogues to establish sea movements, or possibly walking shorelines to discover where certain vegetables and fruits had been washed up, after mixed sacks had been put into the outflow pipes. Bottom sampling meant further trawler days, largely in the North Sea, taking bottom samples, which then were brought back to Brixham, each one tipped into a white tray under a microscope and then the constituent fauna identified and counted. Hours of backbreaking, eye straining activity. Such was the stuff of “front line” science. With the career opportunity of becoming an Experimental Officer, and working with the incumbents, it was clear that the job wouldn’t alter very much.
In the June of ‘71 walked into St Luke’s Teacher Training College in Exeter, simply to enquire how to become a teacher. The head of the science department, Tony Staden, happened to be available for a conversation. Half an hour later, he sent me to the admin department to register, to start the following September on the Primary course. I know it wouldn’t happen now. After a year of straight science, I transferred to the small Environmental Studies department, providing the background to every subject area in some depth; the philosophy of the department.
Forty-eight year later, I am stopping paid work.
There’s a certain regret involved. I have thoroughly enjoyed my career, which makes me very lucky. I know that won’t necessarily be the same for everyone. I may have been lucky with timing; it was a period when teachers were lead thinkers in their classrooms, organising curricula and making do with relatively few resources.
Stopping being paid doesn’t stop the thinking about education. As a school Governor and grandparent, I have a continuing stake in the system, so I will continue to think, offer ideas and share in the collaborative discussions generated via Twitter.
If you’re interested, I have explored the detail of my career in Thinking Teacher-from black to grey; another non-book of reflections. Download from https://chrischiversthinks.weebly.com/pdfs.html
As it says below, "Be true to yourself and grow yourself; you are a work in progress".
I'm looking forward to continuing my development, with a little help from my friends.