So, that seems to be that, I think. Like the pathological darkness of these misty, dank days that span the end of one year and the beginning of another, the years of teaching in schools that have dominated my life gather together and hang in a veil of memories. I did not like school when I was obliged to attend as a student, and I have not really enjoyed the experience of the structure of schools as a teacher. The classroom could be a place of laughter, silence, boredom, interest, intelligence, or stupidity; yet I could never remain too long in that one place, feeling the need to move, to breathe and to release the brain. Some days I would watch children as they stared out of the window in a yearning to be free, or lost in some hazy story that would lead them through lands of inconsequential tenuous reality. Some days I would find myself disappearing through a gaze that would penetrate the grass and the trees with such uncertainty and incredulity that to return to the classroom was like wakening from the edges of sleep.
I have finished teaching almost in a way that could only have been designed for one who was distinctly averse to cleverness, whose irritating tendency was an inclination to find humour in everything, and who never felt any superiority to the children in the room. Not a successful career perhaps; no great status or salary, no invitations to impart wisdom gained from the years, no first-class degrees or glittering prizes, just the opportunity to listen and discuss with young people. And a delight in being with the young.
Life is not circular, but moves in spirals, overlapping like the conical shells that can be found on the shores; beginning at a point and spreading until the emptiness inside is greater than the thin outer coating that is so fragile and almost translucent. The lifetime of experiences that do not only exist in memory are caught in the net of learning, not to be extracted and held as true, but rather to be left to flow loosely in the consciousness of all humanity.
Thus, my final work, whether it comes to some sense of fruition or not, is to delve into learning, to question the assumptions that have arisen over the years – particularly concerning the organisation of learning. Can learning be organised? What are the results of attempts to organise learning? So, my wife and I leave for three months in India, to travel, to observe, to listen and to learn. The work of Rabindranath Tagore and Jiddu Krishnamurti will feature as markers along this pathway of inquiry, of great significance, but not exclusive; and conversations will be had at every opportunity.
The next step is beginning……