Friday, November 5, 2010
THINKING ABOUT MY ACADEMIC RETIREMENT
I think about the personal effects of my nearing retirement from both positive and negative perspectives. This is interesting to me because for the last five years I have only been working part time, mostly teaching two, or sometimes three, courses.
On the positive side, in retirement, I will have more time to do what I like, for example marketing my memory, wisdom and retirement workshops to the wider society, further developing the Intergenerational Centre for Action Learning (ICAL) which is our nonprofit and Community Building: Research and Action. I am specifically directing my retirement workshop toward the business community as a means of supplementing my retirement pension. If you know any organizations that might be interested in sponsoring my workshop, let me know.
When mandatory retirement was abolished in British Columbia two years ago, I had been teaching part time for several years and I gave little thought to requesting a return to four courses per semester. Professionally, I have had more time to explore research topics including ageism and retirement. I am, however, not entirely free from schedules. For instance this fall term I teach two mornings a week and on another day, early evening. Still, I have four days that I can experience any way I choose. Frankly, I don’t think I would have been able to take the time to create and maintain this blog if I had been teaching a regular four-course schedule.
Even when working fulltime, teaching at the post secondary level is, for me, more like being an independent contractor. Aside from department meetings and committee activities it is largely individual. Most of the time it’s my students and me interacting with for several hours. I enjoy the interaction and I hope most of them do. I know that, when I retire, I will miss regular contact with students and other academic friends. There is no doubt that I am deeply identified with my job. But I am still looking forward to retiring because what I am creating in the workshops is quite similar
Not teaching four courses for the last five years has had financial consequences. My pension will not be as strong and I am concerned about upcoming expenses. Perhaps if I had disliked my work I would have paid more attention to financial issues. As it is, the administration deposits my pay at a local bank and I don’t really keep track of how much is in my account.
Fortunately, along with taking three courses per term in Fine Arts, Elizabeth exercises the role of financial officer in the family. She knows what’s happening on the financial front and is preparing to re-enter the workforce if necessary. In some ways, I’ve been like a little kid playing in the sandbox with limited appreciation of things going on in the “real” world so retirement will truly be a new beginning for me.