Wednesday, 7 December 2016

First rule of retirement- Do the things you love to do!

Part of the abbey ruins at Leiston
 Drama in the Suffolk Countryside

A relatively short post this week because life has suddenly become very busy.  Last weekend I went up to Leiston Abbey in Suffolk and took part in a weekend arts course for the siblings of children with special needs.  The lovely people at Pro Corda asked me along to do some drama work with a small group of 9 to 13 year olds based on the story of Aladdin.  Not having worked with young people since July, I had forgotten how much energy and enthusiasm they have and how infectious that enthusiasm can be and also how tiring it can be trying to keep up with them!

In short I had a great time but it was exhausting but exhausting in a good way.  I had ideas but those youngsters had better ones, I had a few things planned but they wanted to do that and more.  I could barely keep up!  It reminded me how privileged  anyone who has the opportunity to work with young people is.  They are bursting with ideas and doing drama with youngsters is just so much fun because young people instinctively want to explore and create. Drama and the arts offer the perfect pathways to do both.

The Pro Corda site including the fantastic thatched barn
I had two ladies helping me who also acted as pastoral staff and it was great to see how they engaged with both the youngsters and the drama. The group also took part in singing with Andrew Quartermain who runs Pro Corda and Sarah Francis who did set design with the group.  We put together a show in little over one and half days and also managed to pack in a party, talent show and watch a film. I also managed to find an hour for myself where I just roamed the leafy pathways around the abbey, took in the crisp, bright Suffolk scenery and realised I needed to get out to the countryside more often.

Our magic carpet created by the youngsters and Sarah

And what of poor old me? How did I cope? The most difficult thing was being that person who stands up and leads who has to generate interest and enthusiasm amongst a group of young people, in other words being a teacher again. There was the initial shock to the system but then I was pleasantly surprised how easily I got back into working with the group.  After a while it's not about leading, it becomes about collaborating, helping young people to find different ways to express character and narrative.  What I particularly like about working with young people is their inventiveness and this group were very inventive believe me.

The experience of last weekend demonstrated to me that my drama teaching was one of the most rewarding parts of  my role in school prior to retirement. It is one of the aspects of my work that I  will continue with and whether it's at Pro Corda or my local drama group, working with young people is a very life affirming and privileged thing to be able to do.  There is a lot that us more mature folk can offer the young but there is also a huge amount that they can show and offer us. 
The Lady Chapel- brought back to life from the ruins

For me the experience of last weekend  highlighted the most positive aspect of retirement, namely the opportunity to pick and choose what you do, when, for how much time and with whom.

On that basis retirement is one of the more rewarding events in my life; I just wish I could have done it thirty years ago.


  1. I have always said that we can learn from children the same as they can learn from us. It's a two-way deal and very refreshing.

    1. Well said and I just love the honesty of children. They tell it like it is.

  2. I love that your group was inventive and vocal about their ideas. Good for you for being inspired and energized by them... the mark of a good teacher.

  3. Thanks Janis and I think it's hard NOT to be energised by kids.

  4. I'm so glad that you are settling into and enjoying your retirement. I have added your blog to the list on my own site of blogs that I enjoy reading and look forward to reading more of your entries going forward.

  5. Thanks for those comments Caree. Having just come back from another weekend in Suffolk suddenly finding it harder to fit in as many posts. I will try harder! Glad you enjoyed some of the entries so far.


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