Breathing Space

After a busy six weeks sharing a Summer School experience with fifty kids, I'm  rather in need of some breathing space. You know the feeling . . . when you want to lock yourself in a room and write a blog post which utilises as many cat pictures as possible. This is my life now.

Teaching gives you the ability to take breaks between jobs. Travel, work and life  blend together. Thankfully, there are no probing questions when potential employers find three month gaps on your CV, and unless they want a silly answer, they generally don't ask 'where do you see yourself in five years?'

One of the good things about English teaching is that working and earning money do not always equal the same thing. At a summer school you eat, live and breath the job for up to eighty hours per week, and while the pay is not bad, you do it for the satisfaction of all involved. Conversely, opportunities might arise at another time to teach lucrative lessons which require very little effort. You can even teach from the comfort of your own home these days. And what of volunteering your services? Isn't donating your time the ultimate sacrifice these days.

My point in all of this rambling, is that with such a transferable skill, which is in demand all over the world, it's OK to work as you please. I'm taking the rest of the year to travel, volunteer and work on my writing and will return to teaching some time in the new year.

But that's a holiday! I hear you cry. Well, I won't be sipping cocktails at the Park Plaza Hotel pool, that's for sure. I believe that collecting experiences from around the world helps shape the education that I can impart. We can always work more hours to earn more money, but is it all worth it if we are not bettering ourselves? In fact, who is to say that we'll still be teaching languages in the traditional class-based methods in ten years? I best figure out how to diversify.

Part of my plan for the next year, will be to set up a business centred around cultural learning and applied language - 'real world English' if you will. I've had enough of students demanding the same grammar drills they did as a child, then wondering why they can't understand anyone on the telly. Language for me is not only about communication. We can communicate perfectly well by typing things into a smartphone and hitting the translate button. Language should be about understanding.

Another reason for my hiatus is that I also subscribe to the idea of taking mini-retirements. My goal in life is not to stop work. Work is what helps people to create meaning in their lives. If that work is raising children, writing music, working 9 to 5, working on an oil rig for three months, or tending to the garden, it is still work. Without doing it, we get no satisfaction.

Over the next few months, I'll be travelling to Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, so this site will once again return to its original status of travel blog. I hope that the people I meet and the places I go, will help me with my future work, and that you can share in the experience via Tall Travels. I promise not to boast.

In a couple of weeks it'll be time to pack the ukulele and leave the cats behind.


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