From all I can observe, it appears to me that we Americans on the whole dislike school. The conventional wisdom is that school is a bore, restricts freedom, and discourages innovation. My recent review of comics in the Washington Post, done to prepare for my blog post on the subject, brought home to me the popular perception that school is a drag.
Once again, I’m a nonconformist. Throughout my life, I have enjoyed school. In my early years, I didn’t do well in school due to my unfortunate home life (father in prison, mother drunk) which, among other things, sometimes led to few clothes to wear and not enough to eat. In those days, school was escape. I cherished my hours away from home at a place where people acted sane.
Because of my mediocre scholastic performance, my high school counselors advised me not to go to college—in their judgment, I wasn’t bright enough to make it. But I was determined to attend the University of California in Berkeley, a mere bus ride from my home in Oakland. As per expectations, I didn’t do well. I had accepted the opinion of my high school advisors that I wasn’t intelligent enough for college. Besides, while attending the university, I had to work twenty hours a week to feed and clothe myself. As a result, my college grades were second-rate, just good enough for me to graduate. I missed my graduation ceremony because I was in the university hospital with exhaustion.
Despite my less-than-desirable grades, I loved attending classes. My studies opened new worlds for me, taught me about things I didn’t even know existed, and deepened my understanding. In my attempt to escape my vocation (writing), I majored in music, one of the great loves of my life, and was in awe of everything I learned.
More next time.