If you ever ask a teacher what they love about their job, and the first answer they give is ‘long holidays’, I’d argue that they’re not really cut out for the profession. Taking those parts of the year that do not involve teaching and holding them up as the absolute highlight does not say much for one’s enjoyement of, and commitment to the important role they have.
In fact, long holidays can become something of a chore, and this is something that I have often tried (and always failed) to explain to friends who are not teachers. I realise it’s a tricky sell, and that trying to convince people that a 2 month summer holiday, or a month off at Easter and Christmas can be a hardship is not the easiest thing to do. But it’s true. People think back to their School holidays, and recall them as a fantastically happy time, involving famous five-style activities such as long bike rides, nature rambles, cricket matches, ginger beer in the sunshine, apple-scrumping and other such pass-the-time fun that would not feel out of place on the pages of ‘swallows and amazons’ or ‘the wind in the willows’.
Now think again, because you know that all of this is total bollocks. Most of my School summer holidays were spent watching TV and reading books (the latter is not a negative thing at all, but it was unlikely to turn me into the final member of the famous six). At a young age, my capacity for doing nothing was far higher than it is now, and by the time I’d reached university, I was an absolute master of my art. I had more time off then ever before, and considered it something of a triumph if I had managed to get anything at all done prior to watching ‘Lovejoy’, which was on BBC1 at 3pm. Have a shower, eat some pizza and potato waffles and stagger out for the Hogshead pub quiz was as near as I got to activity.
But that’s all changed now. I find it very difficult to do nothing. In fact, I find it very difficult to do just one thing. I can’t watch TV these days without spilling my thoughts on the programme on to twitter. For this reason, the School holidays represent quite a tricky time to fill, especially during the day, when Victoria is out at work. I’ll finish off this entry, and then I’m off to climb the Monument (because it’s there), to peruse some Victorian photos in the Museum of London and to have dinner and drinks with a Kiwi friend. All good fun, but it’s actually pretty exhausting trying to fill the time. This is a real problem with teaching; it’s the ultimate ‘all or nothing’ profession, especially at a Boarding School. During termtime it’s a 7-day deal, and your time is all pretty much mapped out for you. Suddenly these great long holidays hove into view, and you whose time has been structured for you throughout term suddenly have a great swathe of time to fill.
One final point: why do you think so many teachers marry other teachers? There’s only two obvious reasons. Firstly, you get to share the same time off. Secondly, another teacher is the only person that’ll have you. The second reason is clearly the more likely, but I wouldn’t rule out the first.