The last New Year’s Resolution I made was to stop making New Year’s Resolutions. However, one post a week seems like a good goal. To make this easy, I suppose I should write about myself. I’ll start with where I was born (Kansas), what my family was like, why I call myself “the Ed Nerd,” and other points of note.
There was a time when people would ask me where I was from and I would say that I was from my mother. I used that joke all the time. But you know how they say that there is always some truth in a joke? My mother actually looms large in my life by never really being there to begin with. She was 16 when I was conceived. Roe v Wade happened that year and if she knew it was an option, she would have used it.
Her and my dad split early on. My earliest memory is them fighting. I spent most of my time at my mom’s parents’ house until first grade. My mom worked a lot and I cannot remember her being around during the day. The house was not in a neighborhood so there were no neighborhood children to speak of. I remember my mom being annoyed with me a lot. I also remember her taking me with her to parties. Sometimes she would leave me sleeping in the car. I remember waking up, having no idea where I was or where my mom was, and not crying. I had learned nobody would answer.
Half way through first grade, I remember that I was given the option to live with my dad and I accepted—a boy in first grade willingly leaving his mother’s side. There is a story I have been told many times about what a smart, independent boy I was. Before I had a child, it made me proud to hear. I remember my mom sleeping in a lot. I guess I was a toddler at the time and I was hungry. One morning, I went to the kitchen, got out a pan, cracked some eggs—shells and all—in the pan, added ketchup, chocolate syrup, and whatever else seemed good, put the concoction on the stove, turned on the burner and let it cook. At the point I pulled the pan off the stove, I touched it to my stomach and that was it for my early days in the kitchen.
At this point I feel I should mention that my mom was sexually molested as a girl. It was a longtime babysitter and it happened over many months. I feel I should also mention that she was once drugged and raped repeatedly by a cousin and his friend over the course of many hours. I feel that I should also mention that she was raped by someone she went to school with. She said he was so threatening, she thought she might die. She tried to run away. She tried to kill herself. That was before I was conceived.
I lived with my dad and his new wife for a time. I lived with my mom’s brother and his new wife for two years. I lived with my dad’s sister for a summer. I lived with my dad’s mom and dad and their son, my uncle. That puts me in fourth grade. My grandpa died soon after from cancer and it was my grandma, uncle and me until I graduated high school.
I did well in high school. I think I finished sixth in my class. I received some scholarships, even. Even Wal-Mart gave me some money to go to college. I lasted two years and I did well, academically. However, I was very miserable; so depressed. The years of neglect had caught up with me. College was not the place for someone seven years socially retarded. I tried to get away. I picked Tucson, Arizona. I was going to establish residency in Arizona and go finish school there.
I could not support myself. And I got my first dose of educational reality—reality as I saw it. School was easy for me, but I still put a lot of my best into it—day after day, year after year. I was sixth in my class, damn it! I got scholarships! I had a GPA around 3.3 in 2 years at the University of Kansas! And here I was with about the same prospects as a high school dropout. I could get a part-time fast food job and that was it. I was disillusioned, to say the least. I resolved to get back home and re-enroll at the University of Kansas in the education program—I really did want to be a teacher.
In the time before I went back to school, I decided I wanted to embark on my own study of education. I knew things needed to change, but I did not really know what that change might be. I think my first thought was something along the lines of “If only kids could be made to…” I went to the library and the first two books I pulled off the shelves were ‘Instead of Education’ by John Holt and ‘Deschooling Society’ by Ivan Illich. Both books would have a profound effect on my thinking.
I made it back to school, but I never made it to being a teacher. I met my ex, had a child, and eventually got a degree in something I never used. I now work as a programmer. I allowed my daughter to be educated in the public school system.
I call myself “the Ed Nerd” because there is a web site called exiledonline.com. The editor, Mark Ames, was a focus of my first post. There is a writer there called Gary Brecher who is referred to as “The War Nerd.” I think his stuff is brilliant and explains war in a way unlike any I have read before. I hoped to channel that for education. I still hope to.