By Judy Berman
The bass in the music is hard to ignore. It’s rocking the walls and floors.
Teens are jamming to Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and screaming the lyrics: “We don’t need no education. We don’t need no thought control.”
I can relate. When I was in high school, I didn’t like the rules or being told what to do. Maybe that’s why some of my friends called me “Rebel,” although I don’t recall leading any protests or any subversive behavior. Still, I’d love to go back in time and, maybe, have a do-over for some parts of my teen years.
In S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders,” the main character didn’t want any one bossing him around, either. But he placed a value on education.
In one scene, Pony and his older brother, Darry, are arguing. Pony threatens to drop out of school like his brother, Soda, did.
Soda tells Pony that he’s “happy working in a gas station with cars. You’d never be happy doing something like that.”
Pony, who is 14, realizes his brother is right.
Some of my seventh-grade students have this figured out. They are planning for what they want to do after high school. If they are forced to take a detour – as I was – I hope their goals and plans are not permanently derailed.
As my graduation day drew near, I was eager to test my wings and leave the nest. I couldn’t wait to begin the next step in my journey.
There was just one small catch. My grades weren’t all that hot. Would I be able to get into a college? I’d asked my English teacher if she’d write a recommendation for me when I applied to a college. I was delighted when she said yes.
So, imagine my shock, when I was turned down – not by one college of nursing, but by three. My Mom called to find out why. It wasn’t the grades that did me in. It was the English teacher’s “recommendation.” She said that I “didn’t have the stick-to-itiveness to make it through college.”
Infuriating. An English teacher certainly knows that “recommend” means to say something positive. Why didn’t she just say “no” when I asked? Crushed, but not defeated, I decided I’d go to a business school.
A few years later, I did go to college part-time and approached education with a new attitude. In the end, I have to admit, that teacher did me a favor.
I have the highest regard for those in the nursing profession, but I wasn’t cut out to be one of them. That discovery was like a burst of sunlight filtering thru a dingy rooftop window.
Illumination coincided with my college biology professor’s request that we dissect a frog. My partner handled the dirty work, and I transferred to courses that paved the way for me to meet people, go to exotic and strange locals, and to write: first as a radio news reporter and later as a reporter for a newspaper.
My experiences disproved another rock song as well, Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” also known as “School’s Out for Summer.”
Education doesn’t stop when you leave school. If you’re doing it right, you’re constantly learning to keep pace with changes at work and elsewhere in life.
Best wishes graduates. As one phase ends, another magical part of your journey begins. The world really is your oyster.
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Video: Pink Floyd, “The Wall”
Video: Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out”