Open Thinkering


Escaping the circus.

I have to.

I wouldn’t know what else to do – I’d have to leave the circus.

I heard an interview with Carly Simon recently. She’s in her sixties now and most famous for stuff she did before I was born – such as the song You’re So Vain. The interviewer asked her if she would keep on making music “even into her eighties”. Her response is above.

She meant, I think, to come across as someone with a lifelong passion. To me, however, it came across as quite sad. She’s no Bob Dylan, after all.

And then I got thinking about education and about teaching in particular. I know quite a few people who just wouldn’t know what else to do if they weren’t teaching. That’s not always a positive thing. Sometimes people need to leave the circus. :-p

(Image CC BY-NC hbp_pix)

8 thoughts on “Escaping the circus.

  1. Interesting…..

    There are some of course that should have never joined the circus in the first place. Unless they’re moving forward with their act: can’t they clear off now? Grrrrrrrrr!!


  2. There’s more that one reason to leave the circus!

    For 17 years of my life I was a classroom-based trainer in the corporate workplace. Oh, I did all the other things, needs analysis, strategising, solutions design and so on, but I saw myself (and was seen by others as) a trainer. And I was good at it. And passionate about it. Both of these were widely held views.

    Then, one very ordinary day, a senior staff member said to me, “You’re so wasted in the classroom!” I was shocked. The classroom was my home turf. It was what I did. I felt as if he’d slapped me, and my face must have reflected that, because he quickly went on to say that while he considered me very good at it, I could have more impact and make more difference elsewhere. I didn’t even know there was an ‘elsewhere’, but it planted the seed that made me open my eyes, take of my blinkers and look around me. I began to discover the world outside the circus, and – eventually – I dared to leave.

    It’s scary out here. It’s certainly not safe! I have never regained the level of self-belief in my work that I had as a classroom based trainer. As a consequence, I strive relentlessly and tirelessly to up my game, to learn more. I stalk the big names of this business and learn parasitically from everything they do and say. So much so that many of them now know my name!

    I will probably never be invited to sit at the top table, and I will probably never again enjoy the complacent self-belief that I once knew. But I would find the circus very restrictive now!

  3. I think you’re being ageist. I have seen young people who chose the classroom for reasons other than a passion for teaching, and I know people who are in “the circus” and still delighted and delighting in their sixties.

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