Thursday, May 21, 2009

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Bad at School - Good at Life


I was never very good at school. There really wasn’t very much at all that I liked about it. Every day, I looked forward to it ending, when I would be released for a few hours of recreation before dinner, sleep and the inevitable ringing of the alarm clock that would announce it was time to do it all over again.
In my own experience with the school system, I came across very few teachers that truly afforded heart-felt encouragement. There were, over the years, one or two exceptions – and I have to say, that such people are hardly paid enough to compensate for their singular and unique contribution to our society. Mostly though, it seemed that my teachers found their own compensation by way of sarcastic comment and physical cruelty.
I remember when I was doing my eleventh year at school (St Joseph’ College in Geelong) the vice principal (now the current principal), called me into his office for a lecture. He assured me in no uncertain terms that if I continued my martial arts training that I would not only fail miserably in life but that there was a strong possibility that I could also end up in a mental institution.
I find it quite disturbing that the vice principal of a secondary learning institution can find no redeeming virtue in ‘passionate endeavour’. I actually feel sorry for the man. Although, people can change – I certainly hope that he has undergone some positive form of transformation!
I barely passed math; I barely passed English – but I did somehow, despite my lack of study, manage to ‘matriculate’ from College. I have to say, that although there were some benefits to my education, that beyond a basic education in Maths and English – most of it has played no significant role in the way in which my life unfolded afterward.
I have done most of my important learning since. The things that have mattered in my life – things like basic business principles, understanding people, marketing concepts, meaningful writing and reading, adventure, building relationships, etc – all these things I learned about after school was officially ‘out’. I learned more about life and how it works from travelling and adventuring that I ever did in school. Bad at school – certainly – good at life? Yes!

JBW

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3 Comments

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Anonymous 11:45 am

John, You remind me of ME!How awesome are you!

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I was going to, like, totally agree with anonymous, but then I decided that you are probably much better than anonymous. Being likened to anonymous is like being likened to a souless creature that doesn't quite know how to express itself.

John, I'm going to go out on a limb here, but you remind me of you. And seriously, don't blame yourself for not doing well in school. It's a system designed to keep itself employed, not necessarily effect meaningful change in the lives of the students going through it.

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Hi John,
have you ever looked at the work by John Taylor Gatto? I haven't read the entire book, but I have read the first chapter, 'The Seven Lesson School Teacher'. In it, he discusses the disadvantages of the current method of schooling, one of them being the control that school imposes on the time remaining after school hours, and the impact that this has on a child's passions, community involvement, and apprenticeships. I've included the link because I think you might appreciate his different view of things. The chapter I refer to is in the book on this site. http://www.scribd.com/doc/11928791/John-Taylor-Gatto-Dumbing-Us-Down-The-Hidden-Curriculum-of-Compulsory-Schooling

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