My son was the epitome of grumpy a morning or two ago. It’s not that he’s not a morning person – he has a preconceived notion that school sucks, and that sets him off. When I inquire, he pauses, collects his thoughts, and then insists that his teachers and classmates are morons. Although he’s probably quite accurate, I realize that as a parent, I cannot agree with him without creating irreversible damage to his psyche. I too, like many of us, probably thought the same thing back in the day. This theory has extended into my adult life – my bosses and coworkers are indeed morons. However, my wisdom wasn’t quite as keen when I was young.
“English,” which wasn’t really the study of English but the study of literature, was my least favorite class. Hours of doldrums and boredom consumed several hours of my high school education. Looking back at the most memorable of my teachers, I can clearly remember the flamboyance of one Chester Plummer who taught at Philadelphia’s Central High School in the 1980s. His quotes of lauded literature continue to echo in my mind more than thirty years later. “Nothing gold can stay” was his favorite. In an era in which I firmly believed studying any sort of literature was a complete waste of time and effort, the ideas brought about from the study of these works and authors have become a pivotal part of my conscience. Studying literature isn’t critically important, but it does certainly help you become more relevant, thoughtful, and ultimately, a better communicator.
Mr. Plummer, I was wrong, and you were right. I apologize for all the negative vibes I emitted during your class, and I thank you for the gift of knowledge you imparted upon my mind that will last a lifetime.
I decided to skip school for an hour or two on that morning, as my son and I visited to the local donut hangout to have a chat. I told my son about this experience, explaining how Mr. Plummer’s words seemed like a waste of time at the time, yet helped me to become a moderately successful published author. Sure, our school curriculum is largely a disaster, but there are tidbits of information that will resonate eternally and may help him to become a better person in an ethical or capitalist scenario. I asked him to give it a chance, and be a bit more open-minded when it comes to dealing with his moronic counterparts, because studying them now will give him a considerable competitive edge later. He seemed to be in a better mood as we pulled into the school parking lot very late. Hopefully, his attitude will improve until our next chat.
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