I’ve been telling people that I have quit my job.
I haven’t hidden it or announced it underhandedly, nor have I shouted it from the roof tops. I simply said “I have quit and will finish teaching this year”
The adults all look at me with a mixture of shock and that look your mum give you when you are about to do something that is going to lead to some kind of hurt.
The students didn’t process the information in the same way. At first it was all self centred ponderings.
“What’s going to happen to us?”
“You’re leaving us so we have someone else as a tutor for our last year?”
“Who will we have as a tutor?”
I expected this. It is in their nature to preserve their comfortable and stable existence.
3 days on, the questions are changing.
“Why are you leaving Sir? What’s the real reason?”
“What will you do if you aren’t a teacher?”
“What’s going to happen when you finish your run?”
“What will you do for money?”
“Where will you live?”
There’s a change in their questions and thinking. They are accepting that my words over the last few months and years aren’t just motivational claptrap. They’re starting to think about their lives and they seem to be putting things into perspective.
“I dont even walk to the shop and it’s only round the corner” A student remarks.
“Surely you can see why that’s wrong?”
“No. Everyone does the same.”
“Do they? What about people who have to walk miles to get to school because they have not cars? Those people that have to walk miles just to get clean water only to have to carry it back? ”
He just looked back at me. Silent but something was going on behind his eyes.
“I need to get out more.” he replied.
Later, the same student began to ask about why I bother with such stupid trips. I dug out the photos of the recent BG Leg 3. He looked at them and before I started to speak…
“Oh my god! That’s mental! Couldn’t you have died?”
The only answer I had was
“Yes. We could have all at points died, but we didn’t. We are incredible machines and one of the secrets it managing our fears. I dont remember being frightened whilst we were climbing the steep ice sheets and clinging on to rocks while we waited for Simon to carve the ice steps. We laughed and kept the mood light, enjoying the environment we were in and staying focused on doing what needed to be done so the risks were controlled. We all knew how to manage ourselves and our fears. One of the guys that ran with me is really scared of heights.”
I point out Ode in one of the photos and the video clip of our ice traversing just below Scafell.
“Does he look like he’s frightened?”
“No. How is he doing that if he’s scared of heights?”
“He just knows how to stay in control. He’s focusing on getting what needs to get done, not on what could happen if he does something wrong. That’s what I keep banging on about. You should be learning how to do things you may not like doing and taking on challenges, ready to fail at them. You learn by failing. You fail, you work out why you failed and then you go at it again. I failed at completing that route, but I know why. I knew why before I even got to half way round. We even started to plan the next one and workout how to make it successful before we’d even finished. That’s what you should all be doing. What you learn may not be useful in your future, but being able to problem solve and cope with the stress of a challenge is.”
I can only hope that with my current path, and the students awareness of my path and challenge, they start to think more about what they are doing and learning. That they start to push themselves that little bit more, get themselves outside more and they start to buildup all those things that hamper their progress.
It takes bold steps sometimes to catalyse change in others.