The Assumption of Uselessness

I woke at three this morning. Seems that my body is rejecting any kind of comfortable routine right now. The covid tests are negative. And it’s as if no one has permission to be any other kind of ill now. Yet after two years of hand sanitizer and no touching, it’s like the first month of kindergarden: every bug roaming the building hits the body like an unfamiliar saboteur.

Suck it up. Have another cup of coffee and an over-the-counter pain killer. Get on with it.

This pandemic came when my life naturally split into the third – and final – phase. If we talk about the life cycles of female wasps there is a before, a goo, a (biologically mandated) reproductive adulthood – or – a non-reproductive servitude, and death. But humans in all our complexity are only somewhat gooey before the reproductive (servitude, choice, willfully overruled) weirdly overlapping phase of what it is to be a child and a grown-up. We are goo again before we fly through as many years again, with no need to chew indigestible fibers and spit out nests. No need to willfully overrule social expectations.

I am trying to embrace the freedom of this “assumed uselessness”.

I know this is not the truth of all human cultures. At all times. But this is the experienced reality of my here and now. And what to do with it?

K. tells me about the senior grant available. Teachers get a few months off unpaid, and a stipend to pay for a course or project of some sort in their field of study. I guess it’s assumed someone my age has paid off their mortgage already and can live off savings for a few months.

The purpose of the grant is to encourage older teachers to keep the spark of interest in their subject and stay in full-time employment longer.

In praxis, I believe that the education department is at odds with itself when it comes to how much they want older teachers to stay in their jobs. There is a continual emphasis on novelty and criticism disregard of past practices. There’s no sense of critically-designed evolution, but a series of “fresh starts”.

Interest in the subject isn’t the problem. Neither is the ability to “think new”.

People who research the subject say that younger people are more likely to think out of the box. But that older people are better able to combine approaches and find new, functional permutations based on experience. But then, people who research the subject often have a vested interest in the outcome of these kinds of studies. After all, the criteria for success will be redefined with every iteration of the study.

The potter wasp is solitary. She builds a nest, fills it with caterpillars, lays an egg, and leaves. She moves on to the next field and begins building a new nest: the same – but different.

I am craving the same – but different.

I can’t in good conscience apply for the senior grant. I don’t think a renewed spark of interest in my subject would motivate me to stay in full-time employment as a teacher longer than I have to.

Not this kind of teacher.

Next week is winter break and I can spend every day in the studio.

And not be held accountable for students’ satisfaction scores. By the time they eat their caterpillars and go through the goo, I will be in another field entirely.

One Reply to “The Assumption of Uselessness”

  1. Maybe buzz is elemental. What remains you know, when all those pointed forgeries has fallen aside. Like senses awake. Or maybe I’m wrong.


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