As each year level is sloughed like old skin, thoughts intrude upon the mind that otherwise be excluded.

When you are running (literally) to class frantically formulating just what it is that you are going to do with that difficult Year 8 group; when seniors stalk you for the secret of life (or the key to getting the desired ENTER score at least; when the daily organiser appears like Death itself to foist an extra class on you (of course it is the same difficult Year 8 as earlier); when you are required to submit to professional development sessions for no good reason except to satisfy the Victorian Institute of Teaching (our so-called professional institute whose chief concern appears to be releasing details of pedophile teachers to the media); when your colleagues are plotting against you (Kissinger correctly identified the source of such bastardry as occurring “not because the stakes are high but because they are so low”); when lunchtime is taken up with mentoring students individually and patrolling the grounds on the lookout for rubbish offenders (and anyone in an agony of anaphylaxis from a peanut allergy); when all this is heaped upon you on a daily it is just not possible to consider the finer things. Things such as art and literature and life, really.

As a consequence you will see your fellow teachers traversing the corridors in a Dante-esque daze. Suffering for their sins. School’s like that.

Ultimately, though, it is to Eliot that you refer.

I had not thought death had undone so many

Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.


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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey