Without boring you all with the staggeringly uninteresting details, I teach an eight week online course four times a year that runs on a strict programme. The students have to complete a specified number of assignments each week, and I have to mark them all the following week - within the week. With eighteen students doing on average 7 to 10 written assignments of varying lengths every week, I have my work cut out to keep up. I must say, it feels like I'm sprinting to the finish line every Sunday night and I only draw breath again when I've made it. I also have daytime face to face teaching, but luckily that's not as demanding and there is less marking to do.
The big bug bear now, though, is my MA dissertation, which I really, really really don't want to do, but I have to so as to keep my job. I qualified as an ESL teacher some years back now, but thanks to a scandal a couple of years ago involving a college that was employing unqualified teachers, the Dutch government decided that all teachers from high school level up had to have a Masters degree. I wouldn't mind if I were 30, but I'll be 60 next birthday.
Why bother? You'll be retiring soon, I hear you say. Well no. I won't and I can't. Because the government has also decided I have to work until I'm 68 before I am entitled to a pension. To be fair, everyone who is my age now has to do the same. The increase in pension age is being phased in, so Koos, who is a little ahead of me, was entitled to his pension at 65, but depending on one's age this year (or was it last?), the age for retirement increases exponentially (is that the right word?).
Thus..or Dus, as we say here, I will need this Masters to keep on working. I am in the last phase of a three year programme now, but this year makes the last two feel like child's play…deadlines every month to submit material. I can't wait for the summer to be free of work so I can focus on my studies. Regrettably, all plans for extended spuddling will have to be shelved until the beast is firmly under my belt.
That said, I am hoping still that if I keep writing and producing things people want to read, I might be able to give up a little sooner, but 'tis a forlorn hope. I'll probably end up doing my time, but I definitely don't want it to be at the same pace! That French sunset still beckons and I'm still counting on sailing off into it! In the meantime, here's a couple of pics from our latest spuddle.
|My lovely Jo, whose relationship to me is|
only known here and not publicly on Facebook or Twitter
for reasons of privacy (hers) that I respect
|Us two - happiness is in a good spuddle|
|Happiness is also standing in the bows of my barge|
|Koos doing what Koos does best in life - apart|
from taking photos!