Suspension of Belief

14 September 2010

A few weeks ago, I made my annual resolutions. I don’t do the traditional New Year nonsense, instead I wait until my head is clear, I am rested and rational and hopefully a little more objective than I am in the commercialised crush to sensibility that is the Festive Season. After all, I hate Christmas.

To put this in context, I had just finished a two-year stint as head of Physics at a pleasant little low achieving state school. I’d worked my nuts off: made some good progress in ethos and with some individuals (of whom I am incredibly proud) and put together a decent set of online resources at my own expense which were enjoyed by many around the world. I was now back at a former school (another, less pleasant but no less low achieving state school), as a class teacher of no particular fame or significance.

Here’s how I started.

Not wishing to be ungrateful, I realise that looking after one’s health is the baseline from which everything else is launched. I’ve quit smoking again as I write this and have been to the health club more than ever in the past two years. I remain committed to clearing my name and debts, as much as when I refused to take the bankruptcy cop-out of the spineless, which was the state of affairs my second marriage left me to deal with, seven years ago.

I dream of being a writer, encouraged by a few who say I have some talent in that direction (is it just because I like words?). I dream of having earned a PhD but frankly have neither the patience, tenacity nor intellect to do a proper one. I might buy one, like a guy I know who has a fifty-dollar PhD in Polar Bears.

Next, I wrote down some habits: procrastination is my worst, but the tendency to confidence (which pisses people off) and depression (which pisses people off) is probably the most costly.

The catharsis comes in recognising some of the realities of life: I set these in a backdrop of a list of things which are not my priorities: proving myself, I don’t have to do; working for free, or for nothing, needs to stop; and taking on other peoples’ problems has to go too. Part of the urgency in this is due to my age, my financial dependence on working which nails me to Scotland, and fact that there are arseholes, everywhere. Look around you.

I have a lot of interests, and I’m happy that I’m pursuing these better now I have taken the summer to organise my house and my office. I have no excuses, except as already noted. I’m not really interested in the union, or the poor or the stupid. “If you don’t want to learn, son, bugger off and get out of the way of those who do.” (Hood, 2010)

Finally, I drew up a list of the consequences of these lists of constraints and facts. I have to keep earning. I have to exercise, physically and mentally. I have to make time for my home and garden. I have to remain in control. I have to have balance.

From these conclusions, I have shut down all web sites which don’t directly drive one of the priorities on my list. The Wiki, the World-Wide-Whatsit, the Physics sites, the forum, the teacher blog, Mr Hood’s classroom (my Moodle VLE), all of them, now gone.

I’ve also stopped believing true, things that are patently fake. This is the most liberating of all.