The other day I came out of the Quay County Sun office and found a youth of about 10 years old sitting on the curb clearly dejected about something. I sat down next to him as the cars whizzed by and asked, “What seems to be the problem? Wife kick you out of the house?” (I find this is often why I end up sitting on the curb dejectedly – but surprisingly this was not the case for this young man).
“Nah,” he said. “School’s starting pretty soon and I’m gonna have ta go back to class soon.”
“And you see this as a negative?” I asked a bit confused.
“Oh, heck yeah,” he said. “I mean they’re about to closed the pool and I’ll have homework and there’ll be teachers and girls and…”
I stopped him at this point because it was clear he did not appreciate the more valuable aspects of an education. I find that so many young people these days do not. “But you’re missing the big picture,” I pointed out. “Think of all that a day in school can mean.” He just looked at me blankly.
“Think back, what was the best thing that happened to you in the last year?” I asked.
“Well…”he said while thinking back over all the aspects of the previous year, I guess it was when I dropped the bag of water on my teacher during the snow storm.”
“And where were you when this happened?” I asked.
“Now think back again,” I requested.” Can you think of any other high points in 2003 or 2004?”
“Well, there was the time I put the gum in Wynonna Fibratch’s hair and she came back the next day with half her head shaved. Yeah, that was great.”
“You see,” I said, “you were underestimating the value of school. There are so may positive experiences that young people forget about when looking at education. It is important to look at all aspects.”
I told him that he was on the very cusp of an educational plateau. He was entering into a grade in school when spitballs would become a major artistic factor in his life. The perfection of their aerodynamics would give him hours of fun (and custodians hours of work cleaning them off blackboards, walls and ceilings).
“Yeah?” he said eagerly.
I also shared with him the fact that the grade he would be entering was where he would learn of the unified book drop theory. This is the theory that if everyone is unified when they drop their English books, they can see the little vein pop out of the teacher’s forehead as she loses her temper and screams.
“Really?” he asked obviously gaining a newfound enthusiasm for the American Educational System. “What else will I learn in school do you think?”
“There are whole worlds of educational possibilities,” I said as I warmed to my task of selling the value of attending school. “You’re at the age when most girls can be frightened to death with such common everyday things as frogs, lizards and snakes, and teachers can be made to have breakdowns with things as simple as pencils in your nose and your eyelids folded back.”
It was at this point he jumped up, squared his shoulders and looked at me with obvious respect. “You know,” he said, “I’m glad I met you. I would have never realized just how much school has to offer.”
I have to admit that I walked away from that discussion a little bit taller. I hear politicians and educators regularly bemoaning the fact that there are too many dropouts from today’s schools. Obviously, they don’t know how to inspire students.
Maybe I should become an inspirational speaker, or something.