No, this is not the start of a bad joke. This past week I went to the eighth and ninth retirement parties this school year and this particular connection formed in my warped little brain.
Our school system is probably like a lot others right now in terms of retirements. We have a lot of people who have lasted their 30 years (more or less) and are now heading out the door for Florida or wherever. And having been around here long enough, some of them are friends or long time colleagues. I certainly wish them well but to me, many of these parties seem to have a strange funerial air to them.
It’s not the retiree’s fault, of course. These affairs are planned by their friends and, like funerals (and graduations for that matter), they seem to be designed for the people attending them not for the honoree. Very often the person who is the object of all the attention looks very uncomfortable as their friends parade decades worth of their life in front of everyone. In at least one case last fall, the presentation felt like living the whole 30 years, as if the planners had lost all their summarization skills.
I’ve decided I want none of this when I decide to quit (or more likely get thrown out in the street). First of all, I doubt I will every stop teaching in one form or another. Even the cheezy tutorials and collections of links I post on my other sites (1, 2, 3) is a form of teaching. I once read about a teacher who, after 38 years, just walked out of the school at the end of the year and didn’t return the next fall. That’s the way I plan to “retire”. No muss, no fuss – just goodby. I appreciate that people have all kind of good intentions in planning these affairs. But double your efforts for the person that leaves next instead.
Now let me tell you what I think about funerals… :-)