Friday 13 February 2015

Outside The Walls of a School

When I was thirteen years old, I had to make a decision that would dictate the direction my life would take. I realize that these decisions need to be made at some point, but at thirteen I didn’t know enough about life to make an informed decision.

In centuries past, the young folk weren’t given a say in the matter, their parents would apprentice them to a craftsman or find them a “position” in the household of the local Lord and Lady. This would happen a good deal earlier than thirteen, usually around seven or eight years. There are indications of this when you look at the designs of homes from that era, there were nurseries but they lacked any rooms for older children. Sometimes this system worked well and sometimes it became very unpleasant for the kids.

The decision I had to make wasn’t life or death and I wasn’t going to be shipped out to the merchant marines. I simply had to pick the high school program I was to take. I could pick the four or five year Arts and Science program or the four or five year Business and Commerce program. I was torn, I liked the idea of Arts, but the Science part of it had little interest to me at all. I had almost no interest in the Business and Commerce program, but of the two programs the Business one seemed to me as more practical. I was thirteen and “practical” was something old people worried about, I was going to take the Arts and Science program where I could learn to play and instrument, draw, sculpt and let my creative juices flow.

The old people that I lived with (my parents) strongly favoured “practical”. I was thirteen and had yet to learn that you could say no to your parents. My parents hadn’t learned that I could say no to them and didn’t seem to understand all of the ummms, ahhhs and maybes meant that I didn’t want to be a businessman. At thirteen, I didn’t want to be a man at all; I was enjoying being a kid. Needless to say, when the application went in, I was registered in the five year Business and Commerce program. Shit!

Here I am about 50 years later with 20-20 hindsight. During high school I took typing, accounting, data processing, learned business theory, how to draw a flow chart, draw up a balance sheet, profit and loss statement, a two, three, five and ten column statements, and numerous other things pertaining to running a business. I never ran a business and never really used any of the information they spent five years, well six actually, drilling into my head. You see, I have never been good with numbers. I don’t dislike numbers and I don’t think numbers dislike me; it’s just that we are kind of like oil and water. I understand that numbers are very useful and hopefully the numbers feel the same way towards me, we just aren’t useful to each other.

I doubt that most of the Arts and Science programs would have been useful to me either, but some of them would have been. I would have learned the basics of music and art. Perhaps those basics would have followed me when I left school and given me comfort when I was sad and lonely. Perhaps…

We are all products of our childhood for good or bad. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if even one thing had changed. I like the me I am and I like the friends and family that like the me I am. I may have been a better person if I never learned the difference between a limited company and a corporation, but that is something I will never know.

Besides, all of the important things you learn in life happen outside the walls of a school. 

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