“Do You Miss Teaching?”: Notes From The Other Side

“Do you miss teaching?” That’s what people ask, almost invariably, when they hear that I’m retired. This has been going on since I quit 15 years ago at age 67.

Usually I hesitate before responding. Why the hesitation?

I enjoyed teaching, and was very good at it. That sounds immodest, but I assure the reader that it’s true. Former students still write that the courses I taught strongly influenced, in a positive way, the direction of their lives. Of course, this makes me feel good. Yet I retired voluntarily at an age when I was still learning, still getting excellent evaluations, looking forward to meeting my classes.

Why? For one thing I discovered that my pension would be larger than the salary I was collecting at the time. Less crass, I considered that old age was creeping up on me. I did not want to spend another minute, hour, day of my life sitting through a boring and inane department or committee meeting. That’s too mildly put. The crap being parsed with exquisite logic and illogic numbed my senses. “What am I doing here?” I kept asking myself. Is this the life-affirming vocation I have chosen? Others must know the feeling. Yet the teaching was not ruined by these sour feelings.

So I hesitate before responding to the question at the top. “NO,” firmly put, is my answer. “Not at all?” most people ask. “No, not at all.”

I wonder whether anyone believes me. Surely, I must be masking my real feelings. Perhaps. I haven’t seen a shrink about it. But I’m pretty sure that I’m not kidding myself.

If anyone reads this, especially  retired teachers, what are your thoughts? There are probably studies in the works about these matters. Meanwhile, let’s start our own study (support group?) on this blog page.

By Louis Kampf

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