I actually found myself feeling a little sad yesterday, as I drove home from the Monash campus at Clayton. I'd just conducted my last couple of classes for this year - two tutorials in the first-year philosophy subject that I was teaching in second semester, in which students were allowed to take two out of three options. I've been teaching classes of students who'd opted for the (arguably slightly incongruous) combination of "Metaphysics: Time, Self, and Freedom" and "Philosophy of Sex".
I enjoyed this teaching semester and felt that I'd managed to build a bit of rapport with my classes over the three months, and I'll now actually miss teaching, at least a bit, over the summer break (though I do desperately need to get some writing done; in particular, I'm now anxious to complete and submit my thesis, which should have been finished months ago but ran into some problems that I'm still trying to sort out).
Over the past few years, I've interacted with perhaps a few hundred young people, mainly in their late teens, and it's been a positive experience. The Philosophy of Sex part of the course has been especially interesting - we've managed to discuss everything from Plato's Symposium through modern debates about pornography and gay marriage, to conceptual analysis of such ideas as perversion and seduction ... usually with seriousness and decorum, despite the inevitable light-hearted moments. More generally, from what I've experienced while teaching at Monash since 2004, my generational cohort of baby boomers and Gen Xers will be leaving the world in pretty safe hands down the track. Gen Y seems to have a nice mixture of idealism and scepticism.
The immediate point, though, is to wish good luck to my first-year students in their exam next week, and likewise to the couple of fourth-year Honours students who are currently writing long essays under my supervision. Go get 'em!