TTIR, Part 10: That Other Place

The park down the street also serves as the playground for the local elementary school. Today while we were playing a flock of kindergarteners was also there, learning how to line up and go inside, asking which days they would come back to school, and generally finding out how school operated.


I had to admire the teacher's control already established over the class, which has only been in session for a couple of days. I wish I could have done that well when I taught Sunday School, but my sympathy with the children who were crawling in line whenever the teacher's back was turned was always too strong. I don't suppose they'll do that for much longer.


As far as I can remember, I never asked to nor wanted to go to a regular school. When I was about three, I went for awhile to a sort of co-op preschool run by the mothers of our church, but as it was indistinguishable in location or people involved from Sunday School and AWANA, it never stood out in my mind. I remember playing “The Farmer in the Dell,” but that's about it.


When I was in fourth grade, my parents evidently decided I should have the chance to find out for myself if I was interested in attending school. They sent me for a day to the large Christian school my older siblings had attended. My impression of school was that it was mind-bogglingly slow and boring. Most of the time was spent waiting for the next thing to do. Write your name down and wait. Work a paper and wait. Wait. Wait. And sit. I never was much good at sitting still for very long.


Our church had a much smaller and rather less academically-oriented school attached; it was where we took our annual tests. This was a relatively familiar place. We knew quite a few of the children there, and testing day was always a great treat, as the tests (Stanford Achievement) were simple. We whipped through all the tests in the morning and then ran outside to play with the other kids while Mom graded them.


Occasionally, when we were being particularly naughty, refusing to turn in assignments or cutting up incessantly when we were supposed to be studying, Mom would moan in frustration, “You wouldn't get away with that if you went to (the church school).” I always wanted to retort, “Well, if you think it's so great, why not send us there?” I don't think I ever did say that, though.


School did always have some of the glamour of the exotic, though. Whenever I was in schools for an event, I wanted to explore all the passages and test all the doors–but then, I've never outgrown that urge in any large building. I loved books where the children went off to boarding school–what an adventure that would be! But I never seriously would have wanted to go there; if one must have an adventure, one with dragons would be superior.


When I was 15, we decided I would take the summer driving course at the local public school rather than waiting until I was 18 to get my license. I admit, I did not fit in and didn't particularly want to do so. Driving never was easy for me (still isn't), but the coursework was quite simple; yet other students struggled and avoided work even though presumably we all wanted our licenses. I tried hard not to be a show-off, but I still felt resented for getting good grades. And it wasn't as if there was time in class to actually get acquainted with anyone.


All my classroom experiences as a student after that were at the college or post-college level, were relatively short-lived, and were on topics of my own choosing. They were all quite enjoyable content-wise, and I shall write about them later. But I never did learn to enjoy sitting in a classroom all day.


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