I believe in education. It is a value that my both of my parents have given me, and one that I hope to pass on to my son. My grammar school years were spent watching my parents learn.
It wasn’t something that was expected of me only. First, Dad went to school and earned his first degree. By the time he entered grad school, it was just something that was expected, and both parents always spoke to me about when I would go to school.
Later, when mom enrolled, I learned that she had an acute interest in science, biology to be specific. I remember her grabbing me to use me as a tool when she was memorizing the parts of the body. Over thirty years later, I know the correct names of many bones and muscles in the body because of Mom’s studies. Later, when she took English and Speech classes, I would sit on the olive green metal stool in the kitchen and listen attentively as she practiced reciting T.S. Elliot’s “Hollow Men” shivering appropriately as she said “Not with a bang but a whimper.”
My parents used the outside world as a learning tool. Whatever interested them, they eagerly shared with me. I saw Alan Ginsberg when I was five. I went on Frank Lloyd Wright walking tours. Jazz jam sessions, renaissance fairs and other cultural events were part of my childhood experiences. Visits to the library were de riguer in our family, and still, when I speak to my parents, they routinely ask me “What are you reading?” Books, the most sacred symbol of learning and education, are gifts my six-year-old son receives regularly from my parents.
When my dad began teaching I sat quietly in the back of his class and osmotically soaked up all that I could as I drew stick figures with large round heads and tiny glasses. I internalized my mother’s social work skills as well. My subconscious soaked up how both parents interacted with their pupils, and I see their “styles” blended in how I relate with my own students today. When I reflect on discussions I have had with my students, I can see my parents’ individual styles blended together to become mine own.
My passion for education has helped to keep me in school for most of my adult life. I racked up over 100 community college credits just because “I liked going.” It was with much chagrin that I finally agreed with my dad that it was time to go to the “big school” and get my degree. To what end? To become a teacher and pass on my belief in education to many others. I have been teaching now for over 12 years, and I know I have found my true vocation. With much thanks to my parents, I believe in education in whatever form it may come.
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