Monday, September 14, 2009

Back to School!

Back to school! "Yipee!", say the children! "Awesome!", say the youth. "What a fantastic opportunity to expand my mind", say the young adults.

The last few weeks have seen hundreds of various educational institutions, at all levels, welcoming back their students for yet another year of teaching, training and...more teaching. With all the excitement going on around me, I couldn't help but think about how much I miss receiving a formal education. And, after much reflection, I can honestly say that the only things I miss less are getting the wooden spoon when I misbehaved, and well...that's it really. Actually, I take it back...the wooden spoon wasn't that bad. So lets put school at the top of the list of things I miss the least.

On my first day of elementary school I cried, because I wanted my mommy. On my first day of Jr. High I cried, because I didn't want to get beat up. On my first day of High School I cried, because...I didn't want to get beat up. And on my first day of College I cried, because it was going to be two-hour commute, it was still dark outside and...I didn't want to get beat up.

School was a traumatic experience and a tremendous bore...until I figured it out.

Now, its not like I wasn't good at it. I was very good at it. In fact, I was considered to be both a mathematical genius and an English scholar by the age of seven...at least, that's the way I remember it.

In elementary school I was a straight "excellent" student (they didn't use letters). As a result there were always a few "unsatisfactory" kids that were jealous. The transition from grading comments to alphabetical notations was a breeze. In Jr. High, my "excellents" had become A's... which, obviously, infuriated the, now, "D" kids. But then, I went to High School and things began to change.

In spent most of grade nine making sure that I maintained my longstanding position on the honour roll. But then, I had a "lightning strike" moment that forever altered my educational experience.

It was near the end of my grade nine year. Our morning gym class had gone golfing, as a field trip. We were on our own, but were told to return to the school after lunch and proceed with our afternoon schedule. Lunch took a little longer than expected, so the other members of my foursome figured, since we were running late, why not just...skip the first class. WHOA there! Skip the class!? They might as well have asked me to steal an elderly ladies purse, right out of her hand. Skipping class was...bad. Well, chalk one up for peer pressure, we ended up skipping class and I was left sweating like a pig for the rest of the day. I thought for sure someone would find out and then I'd be strung up in the city streets as an example to all others who might consider such a thing.

But an amazing thing happened. I missed a class yet, I was still alive. My "lightning strike" moment...and I was never the same again. The beginning of The Coasting Era had officially begun. Over the next four years (yes, we had grade 13), I probably missed more classes than my three golfing buddies combined. During that time I also discovered a wonderful thing called "Sleeping In". It was absolutely energizing. I began using my math skills in practical areas of life, like figuring out how little work I needed to do and still pass the class. If I was a painter, I would've been honoured as a "minimalist". I didn't study for tests, instead I chose to practice "Cram Memorization", and as for the questions that caught me off guard, I just applied the "When in Doubt Pick C" theory. It served me very well. Despite all this, I didn't fail a class until Grade 11. It was Chemistry. Apparently, my whole family failed Chemistry, so it was clearly a genetic thing.

I was now having a blast. "School" wasn't so bad after all, as long as no one asked me to do work. I remember my graduation vividly. I remember that I almost didn't graduate, just as vividly. On the last day of High School, one of my grade 13 teachers informed me that I had received a 48 in their class, but they had bumped me up to a 50, so I could get my diploma. I always liked that teacher. Here's my advice to students everywhere...befriend your teachers! As long as your respectful, kind and fun loving...you can be a slacker. They'll have your back.

Anyways, graduation came. The auditorium was full of proud parents and excited graduates. I lined up with my class mates and we were invited, one at a time, up to the stage to get our photo op, handshake and diploma. The introductions went something like this: "So and so, with honours", "So and so, with honours", "Tim Boyle", "So and so, with honours", "So and so, with honours"...and down the line it went (It was a real keen group). I just hope my parents didn't notice the break in the pattern.

Now, I obviously didn't remain on the honour roll, but I do have the piece of paper to prove that I did finish High School. And, believe it or not, I did attend college...Well, I was enrolled in college. I had a blast there too.

Come to think of it...I miss school, alot.

Have a good one,
Timmy

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