Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Huvtaes no more

I was working today. Well, sort of. That kind of voluntary stuff that has you heading off on the ferry with a briefcase full of papers (and a sandwich!) rather than a rucksack, wearing, if you can picture this, the kind of shoes you sit around in rather than the ones you hike up a muddy glen in. And yes, it was stuff for the church, dealing with the business of lifelong education and distance learning in Argyll and The Isles.

Quite apart from the revisited horror of spending hours closeted in a relatively gloomy and distinctly ecclesiastical-smelling room while the sun was splitting the sky, I recognised the sinking feeling that used to overtake me at Department Meetings when there was paperwork to shuffle and forms to fill in. In particular, I was reminded of the horror of the Modules which used to happen in schools before Higher Still came in and changed everything (again). I realised yet again why promotion to the paper-shuffling (or file-shuffling, if you like) echelons of the teaching profession had never been an option for me - the department would have fallen apart in a welter of missing documentation.

Not that I am incapable of keeping some sort of tabs on things I consider wildly relevant - the carefully-filed Standard Grade folios or the book of notes on Higher RPRs come to mind - but maintaining individual record-sheets for people used to drive me potty and my record of work tended to be composed retrospectively, with the help of the pupils. I long ago recognised that I was a performer, not an administrator, and that living in the moment was always preferable to planning for it - or writing said moment up later.

And so it was with joy that I was able to sit back this afternoon and note that my - what? line-manager? boss? superior? pal? - was going to bear the brunt of all this bumf. I'm retired, I heard myself murmuring (yes, I can do murmurs) and I don't have to do this. I can take holidays, I can suit myself about the hours I work ... but inside the voice of truth was adding its own tuppenceworth. I do what is fun for me to do - and when I'm not enjoying it any more, I stop.

I guess I was anticipating all this when I was asked by an acquaintance on the ferry if I was still working. (I musta looked businesslike). No, I said, I'm retired from teaching. But what I really meant was that I've retired from huvtaes - all of them.

*In certain educational circles, a "huvtae" is what in Dunoon we called a "Please Take" - the dread summons to cover the class of an absent colleague. I have appropriated it to cover all the compulsory elements of working life - set hours, set holidays and so on.

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