Farewell to a friend

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Today a former colleague of mine retired. Somewhere in the vicinity of 40 years in public education working in some of the most challenging schools, supporting some of the most difficult students, and throughout it all insisting that he still had so much to learn about learning and how best to support students.

Now what? I don’t mean what’s he going to do with all that extra free time… we’re teachers so we must be all too familiar with extensive holiday breaks! I’m talking about all of that wisdom, knowledge, passion, integrity, wit, and educational nous that is transitioning out of the profession. This isn’t in isolation either.

The OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey reports that the average age of teachers in Australia is 43.4 years and 53.2 years for principals. More alarming is that 37.1% of the workforce was over 50 in 2013 (a 5% increase from 2008 levels).

Now I’ll be the first to say good riddance to a small proportion of that statistic but the overwhelming majority of the group, like my colleague, have considerable insight into the fundamental nature of learning and I worry that we are not capturing that essence… before it’s too late.

R.I.P.

(Retire In Peace).

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