Eoin's Blog: Back to School
Today it was back to business at the day job. For the last three academic years I've been teaching in the Adult Education College, Limerick City. I teach English as a foreign language to refugees to refugees from around the world that end up seeking asylum in Ireland and making a new life here by the Shannon banks. After the initial shock of having to stand up in front of a class of some of the most impressive people I've ever met in my life, every morning at 9.15, and present a fully formed, highly skilled performance, these days the anxiety levels are much lower. The thing that most people don't realise, that I didn't realise until I actually ended up at the top of class, is that teaching is very like playing a gig, but with a few crucial and significant differences. A musician will perfect their set and then go on to do that same set every night of their tour, and many will perform their hits, if their blessed enough to have, for the rest of their life. Last time I say Van Morrison in LA, he introduced Brown Eyed Girl, the most played song in radio history, as 'the money track'. But, disappointingly, when I saw Bobby McFerrin singing here in Limerick, he simply responded to requests of Don't Worry Be Happy by saying, 'I don't do that one anymore', but couldn't deny that he still lodges the royalty checks. Now a teacher on the other hand has to perform a different set every day of their working lives, getting to very modified versions every 365 days if they're lucky enough to be teaching exactly the same course the following year. And not only is there the hair tearing pressure of that, but all this must happen, bright-faced and bushy-tailed at 9.15 AM! I can almost taste in my mouth the absolute dread of this realisation as it slowly engulfed me about day 3 of my teaching career. Luckily, four years of surviving at the front means that Ive learnt a few tricks in the face of the daily onslaught. This year I've been sensing an almost inaudible whispering of confidence from somewhere deep back in my brain. but we'll see what happens next Thursday. Then it's, 'over the top' once again to flail blindly into slaughter.
Sometimes I become worried that teaching might become too comfortable and that I might loose all desire to keep writing and singing, looking forward only to the holidays and the unquestionable joy of the prospect of a new class. Though I remember once hearing that Sting was a teacher too. Which is quite reassuring, as recently I've become extremely interested in Oriental spiritual philosophies of divine procreative union.
Which reminds me, we're off to the wonderful Wiltshire wedding in the morning. That reminds me of a poem I heard once. A purely professional engagement, so will have to keep the wicks clean and the powder dry.