School For Dummies

Wednesday, May 16, 2007
It seems a bit of an irony ("incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs,") that the course I'm taking on spiritual direction; listening, discerning, etc. seems so fraught with stress in my daily existence. Some days it grants me strength for another day, while other days it completely takes all the strength I have to remain in it.

I am so discouraged by it these days. I feel as though it is a mountain too great to climb, and I was made for the flatlands.

But even as I write that I know it's not true. The tools I'm learning and the experiences I'm having in the practice of the discipline/craft/art, are totally life giving to me.
I think the problem is more that I hate school.

Really, I'm not good at school and I never have been. At best I was always a C student, and every grade I got was hard fought for. Studying hard, working overtime, being attentive in class, not being the kid the math teacher threw his piece of chalk at, all that and still I could barely get by.

But I am not stupid. I learned coping mechanisms, skills to help me get by. Like, I couldn't ever remember that 7x6= ..... hang on, I'm thinking... 6+6 is 12, + 6 is 18, now what's 18 + 18, hmm 8 and 8 = 16 plus three ones = 3 so its 36 plus one more 6 = 42. Taa Daa!! "42, the answer is 42!"
Yeah, I still do that. And its easier to do that than to remember that the answer is 42. Seems like anyway.

Anyway, now you know how to keep me busy for a while. Just ask me what 8x8 equals.

As a result I've always had to work hard in school situations. Always with similar, mediocre results.

This course I'm in now is a pass/fail model. That means there are no shades of grey, no 62% or 56% depending on the pass or fail point here. It's either all or nothing. And I really really don't want to fail. I. Hate. Failing.

So I notice the coping mechanisms coming up again.

I over-compensate on the homework. Try to read more than the required amount. Try to make the papers perfect, better, right.

Maybe if I delay their submission I can still improve on them, tweak them a bit.

Gotta gather more information, don't want to miss a piece.

And so it goes. Coping, working, worrying...

And I know, for some people it's just a piece of paper to hang on a wall or like I do, line the gerbil cage with it. If the gifts and calling are there to do the work then continue to do it. And I will. I have been doing this type of care for a long time now.

I suppose I wanted to take the course to make sure I was doing it right and to enlarge my experience and growth.

I like learning, it's just the schooling that kills me.

So, I guess at any turn my pass/fail number could come up fail and I'd be done. And learning to deal with failure could be the best learning experience of my life.

I just don't want to have to learn it this way. But then again, do we ever like to learn through the hard times?

Ending on a more positive note, one of my simplest deepest pleasures is that our kids are smart, well for the most part.


The jury's still out for a couple of them, but they didn't seem to get my ability in the classroom, which is good.

But when they do work hard and only get a C, I'm the guy in the room who knows better than the others just what that feels like.



  1. It was the x7 and x8 tables that always got me too, not to speak of x9's. Remember those math tables they used to put on the backs of the cahiers? They were my lifesaver!

    I go into a panic if I have to do multiplying in real life - at least above the x5 tables.

    I make sure I have a calculator handy. But I'm sure every math question I do in life takes 10 years off it.

  2. Just put what you live into your conscious thoughts and then onto paper and you'll do well. Probably better than you think you will. Breath in what you have lived.

    If all else fails be like me! Belabour it for what seems forever, take a deep breath and get it over with. I know what you mean in your blog. I live every word of it too.


  3. I'm sorry you're feeling frustrated Randall. I cannot empathize with the your number issues as I was blessed with my dad's ability with numbers. However, I also hate school. Mainly the homework and certain required reading that seemed to have no bearing on the subject at hand sometimes.

    I have been thoroughly enjoying my non-accredited learning the last few years. No homework deadlines, topics I love to read about and choosing my pace. The problem in self learning or learning by trial & error is that you miss getting the info on some things. *cough*Javascript*cough*

    So keep working my friend and try to focus on the positives and benefits of the structured course before you. Sometimes a 15 minute break goes further than a two hour cram session. Give it a try and good luck! :)

  4. I went back to university at age 35 and after 4 years of school I end up with a 2.75 for graduation in a few weeks. I may not be a stellar student but I did my best, (at my age they tell me I did very well). I will be 40 in a few weeks.

    Do your best and don't be so hard on yourself. Because that stress alone will drive you to drink!!! Easy does it Randall...

    If you've done your best, what more can you expect?



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