What do you read when you have time away from work?
I like to read education books during the summer holiday! There, I’ve said it.
I like to do other things too, but don’t feel the need to list or justify them here. This brief article is in response to yet another thread on social media denigrating a minority of teachers who like to spend at least part of their holiday reading educational books.
My fellow ‘edu-book consumers’ have been described as ‘sad’ and told to ‘get a life’ – ironically by teachers who choose to spend their holidays scrolling through social media whilst claiming to be reading Tolstoy or Keats!
1. There simply isn’t time during term time
I know there should be. I understand that workload could be lessened, and work-life balance should be prioritised. As we all know, teaching is a hugely demanding job that takes every ounce of energy and strains every sinew. If we prioritise our work-life balance, there may be time to read during the evenings in term time, but the reality is that the day to day deadlines will always take over.
There may be books to mark and emails to send. There may also be gym classes, bins to be emptied, children’s clubs to be attended. Life also seems much busier particularly in the darker months; it takes a resilient and dedicated teacher to pull out an education book and have a browse before bed.
2. The mind works best when open
Following the first week to ten days of the holidays, there is an oasis of calm that teachers can reach. This is the time when we have no idea what day it is, food is acceptable at any time of the day and at least 2 naps are required! This is the resting phase; school work is becoming a distant memory.
Gone is any pressure to check emails; next year’s preparation can wait for another week or so. This is the time when we are most open to new ideas and suggestions. So far this summer, I’ve taken up Taekwondo and picked up the guitar again – albeit not at the same time. In this fertile period, what better way to embed and percolate your future self?
3. You can plan to use the ideas
If you are reading an edu-book, you are likely to pick up some useful ideas.
Reading these during term times can of course be valuable (I’m a fan of edu-books at any time) but during the holidays, the space and time to plan gives you the immersion into the authors work and wisdom. Books I’ve read during the summer can change the entire course of the coming academic year!
The beauty of the headspace is that it allows the ideas to formulate, to connect with other ideas and become part of a larger plan. It is of course worth guarding against reading 5 books and trying to implement them all on the omnipresent INSET in September.
4. Not everyone is living their best life
One look across any social media timeline and you can see what appears to be a whole host of people having amazing holidays, nights out and connecting with other people. This of course is great to see, and I like seeing people enjoying themselves particularly after what has been such a challenging time.
Consider this, six weeks is a relatively long time away from work. Even if you have the best social life, there will be times when you are at home with little to do. You may choose to binge-watch Netflix, you may scroll through socials, you may choose to write a book… this is your choice.
Reading an edu-book instead of tackling ‘Crime and Punishment’ denigrates the quality of education books being published and also implies in some way that they are mutually exclusive. The phrase ‘get a life’ is also paradoxical in this context. I enjoy reading education books; nobody is forcing me! I don’t feel that I have to read them, but they enhance my professional knowledge, aid my pedagogy and helps me to enjoy my job. Therefore, I enjoy life more!
The idea that a teacher who reads an education book is ‘sad’ because they do that instead of watching Netflix is not a good endorsement for the teaching profession.
This post is shared anonymously.