Inadvertent Education

When I was in second grade, the private Constructivist school I was attending started to go downhill like an 18 wheeler with no brakes.  My parents had assumed I would be at the school until it ended in 8th grade, so they ended up flailing about for a new private school for me to attend.  They ended up choosing an Episcopalian school, as it was the best they could find.  It was rather traditional – they had uniforms, there was mandatory chapel twice a week, there was daily religion class (which is to say, daily Christianity class), etc.  Independence was discouraged, and group cohesion was valued.  I won’t go into the number of times my strong independent streak got me in trouble, but suffice it to say, it did, and rather frequently.

Now, when I got to this school, I had had essentially no exposure to organized religion.  I knew about the concept of God, but that’s pretty much where things ended.  I had no idea who this Jesus guy was, or that the bible supposedly wasn’t just a really long story.  My mother instructed me to pretty much actively ignore most of the religion parts of the class, and so I spent a lot of time staring at the magic-eye posters on the wall (even today all I have to do is blink and I can see them).  However, this was not always possible.  In my two years at St. Mark’s, I read pretty much the entire bible twice, and we were quizzed on it, so I actually had to read it.  I just looked at it as a really long and complicated story, and that’s about it.  Being an adventure fan, I actually rather enjoyed much of the old testament, what with all the running about and killing eachother, etc.  I thought the vengeful god was way cooler than the pansy that he seemed to turn into in the new testament.

But, reading the bible was only part of that class.  I distinctly remember that on most days, the teacher would choose a particular passage or story, and we would all discuss it together (a teaching technique I now know as “think pair share”).  Those discussions were what got me in trouble.  Since I was pretty much the only student who had no idea what these stories were, or that they were special, I was pretty damn irreverent.  I asked a million questions, most of which were quite unanswerable, or even rhetorical.  I also asked “Why?” all the goddamn time, a question that is generally relatively incompatible with religion.  It drove the teacher mad, and eventually I ended up being essentially banished to playing with marbles and blocks in the adjoining room, so as to not inadvertently disrupt the class.

Before my exile, I did learn a few things.  First of all, I found out that my birthday is Michaelmas, or the feast of St. Michael (sometimes known as Michael the archangel), a relatively important day in Catholicism.  I got a bit fascinated by angels at that point, in particular all the weird and arcane beliefs and mythology behind them.  Plus, as far as angels go (and I had always felt they were pretty lame – they were very one-dimensional to me), Michael seemed like a pretty cool dude, being basically the warrior and whatnot.  Another thing I ended up learning was that religion was eerily similar, in my mind, to the superstitions and whatnot that I had developed over the course of my life at the time.  I was not a fan of Christianity (too many things I enjoyed were frowned upon), but it did get me thinking in a more structured way about my own belief system, which, by the way, I will eventually actually talk about!

So, while I hated my years at that school, and generally feel that they were quite negative in nature (the fact that I was almost expelled at least once should tell you something), something positive did come out of my time there, and something that is actually far more important and significant than I could have conceived of at the time.

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2 Responses to “Inadvertent Education”


  1. 1 Rose August 22, 2008 at 1:53 am

    You? Not like a religious school?! We learn something new everyday.

    Anyway, I’d like to hear more sometime about what was going on with the Constructivist school — more of what that is philosophically and how it was going downhill.

  2. 2 Driftingfocus August 22, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    My parents actually almost sent me to a Catholic high school. Boy, what a disaster that would have been! They made you stand out in the hall with your nose to the wall if you spoke out of turn. I don’t think I would have ever actually been in class!

    The constructivist school was probably the most influential years of my life. That school had a MAJOR impact on who I am, how I work, and how I think. It was called Sunset Pearl, and it’s listed in some studies, if you want to look it up.

    It was going downhill for the same reasons Greg Prince sent Hampshire downhill – they got a new principal, who tried to integrate traditional structure into a constructivist atmosphere. That went over like a dead fish, and the school closed two years after I left.


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