I started an idea at Matt's blog, and then, under the influence of Stuff Christians Like, I am here to propose an idea:
High school teachers start to lose some zing in their thirties. Technology and pop culture fade further away, and they begin the terrible refrain, "When I was in school no one behaved like this." Suddenly, you find yourself, in your 7th year of teaching, twice the age of your freshmen students. (No, that's not me! I'm only 23. Okay, that's a lie. It is me. This coming year, my freshmen will have been born in 1994-95, the year I was a freshman in high school. This seems wrong.) Now, under our current system, this teacher will have at least twenty more years of teaching ahead of them.
Now, another sector of our culture has a much earlier retirement. I'm talking about sports. This is a fond soapbox of mine, the fact that professional athletes burn out on their careers much faster than teachers. In fact, a favorite of mine, Peyton Manning (Go Colts!), at age 32, already rouses speculation at how much longer he will play quarterback. Brett Farve, only nine years older than, well, our hypothetical teacher, played for a very long time, and just retired. No athlete wants to be in his or her late 40s, competing with early twenty-somethings for playing time.
So here' s my idea--why should athletes be the only segment of the population to exploit their youth and enjoy their age? Youthful high school teachers possess the energy and enthusiasm we aging teachers lack, but our experience should garner us larger salaries. If we make it to 40, we should be venerated, give big press conferences to announce our retirement, and have our room numbers retired. Then, we take our large accumulated wealth and retire to our vacation homes. We could put our names on teacher-supply stores, do ads for rulers and textbooks, and show up at new-teacher orientation to discuss what we did wrong and how to avoid it. With our early retirement free-time, we could finally write that novel/play/textbook, stick to an exercise schedule, travel to all the countries we taught about, and inspire youth to teach.
Perhaps you've noticed the flaw in my plan--salaries. While athletes accumulate enough dough to leave the field/court/ice at the age of 35, teachers do not. Sigh. I only hope I'm still hip enough to teach the kids of my current students.