A Year in the Life

Mark Colyvan
University of Sydney
Time is perceived very differently from different vantage points. A year in the life of a primary-school student, for instance, is a very long time—somewhere between 1/5 and 1/ 12 of a primary-school child’s life. When you tlirow in the massive amount a child learns in any one year, compared with the diminishing returns that conspire against us later in life, a child’s year is more like a decade in adult years. But for a primary-school teacher, a school year is just another ten or so months spent trying to remember names, delivering lessons, writing report cards, and endeavoring to shepherd students through the educational system. And, of course, the classroom is just one part of a teacher’s life. Teachers are juggling other serious and timeconsuming matters such as relationships, mortgages, further study, family and so forth. The best teachers, however, don’t let on about these asymmetries between the child’s world and their own; they conceal the differences in temporal perception and they give no clue that each student is just a small part of their life. Such sleight of hand can’t be easy, yet all my primary school teachers pulled it off to perfection. One, however, deserves special mention: Mr. Williams. In 1969 I turned 11 and was in 6th class at the Armidale Demonstration..
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