Everything is Amazing and Nobody’s Happy

Posted by James Scoolis on February 29, 2012

The school district I work in just offered a sizable cash retirement incentive for teachers and administrators age 55 or older with at least ten years of district service.  About a third of the district’s teaching and administrative staff was eligible for the incentive, and that includes me, an older digital immigrant.  So of course I looked into it.  What I found was that despite being a twenty-eight year retirement system veteran, for me, even a $50,000 incentive (the amount offered if forty or more teachers agreed to retire), wasn’t enough to make up the difference in annual retirement payments two more years of service would provide.  So, here I will be for two more years.

Am I ready to retire?  Psychologically, yes.  I do love being around these children, now our second or third generation of digital natives.  But frankly I can’t seem to deflect the stresses and pressures—and the tragic aspects of some of their lives—as well as I used to.   Or perhaps it is true, as many of my generation are saying, that it just is getting to be ever more sad and tragic out there.

We just marked the 50th anniversary of John Glenn’s wild ride.  I was alive then, not quite yet in kindergarten.  I remember sitting in front of the black and white console in my jammies watching the blast off.   It has been fifty years since Bob Dylan recorded his first album.  John F. Kennedy was president, but he didn’t survive through my first grade year.  Telephones had curly cords and sat on tables and desks, and you had to walk over to them and stand there to use them.  Television had three channels and all our news came from Walter Cronkite or the newspaper that was actually printed on paper that made your fingers black.   The majority of music was printed on 45 RPM discs but the primary way to hear music was on a transistor radio.

I may be an older digital immigrant, but at least I was one of the first pioneers.  When I was a young inexperienced teacher, I helped unpack Apple II computers in an inner city Los Angeles school with another teacher who knew how to set up a lab.  I learned how to use LOGO.  I have seen the Mac and Windows wars won and lost and then won again—and that argument now rendered basically irrelevant.  And now behold the flat-out amazing handheld computer.   Thank you and may you rest in peace Mr. Jobs.  What an amazing fifty-five years it has been.

I agree with the insightful and hilarious Louis C.K.  who posits that we live in a time where everything is amazing and no one cares.

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James Scoolis

James Scoolis, Ed.D., is principal of Monarch Grove Elementary School
in Los Osos, California and a member of the TICAL cadre.

4 thoughts on “Everything is Amazing and Nobody’s Happy”

  1. I’ll be the first to comment, Dr. Scoolis. I appreciate how you feel. The word ennui comes to mind. I did not know Louis C.K. before and I am very glad to have been introduced to him. Love the clip.

  2. My approach to this growing sense of sadness is narrowing the focus of my influence, so I can see the benefit of my work. I am learning to enjoy just helping the few people around me and letting go of the rest. I hope my joy and excitement will infect those few around me and they will infect others. I can say from experience that Dr. Scoolis has been a positive influence on me, not only about technology, but about music as well. I know we are not in the group who doesn’t care.

  3. Thanks Steve, it is a pleasure to be a colleague and friend of yours! I appreciate your kind words. I, too, enjoy helping as many people as I can, but I just can not ‘let go of the rest’. I am obligated, indeed, really morally compelled, to not give up on the others.

  4. Hi Jim!

    I’m with you on all of this. I’m on a medical leave and had no idea how physically and mentally exhausted I was until I actually went offline. I’m in this for a couple more years also. I also can relate to the Apple II and LOGO. (And three TV channels!) Our profession would be much better off if more teachers had embraced what you did.
    Thanks for writing.
    Jack

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