Don’t Let Schooling Interfere With Your Education

Those are Pete Seeger’s words. I recently read an article in the Inquirer written by a man who served on Seeger’s ship named the Clearwater. This ship is found on the Hudson River near Seeger’s home and was used to further his efforts to educate the public on saving the ecosystems encompassing the water shed in that area. The writer served on that ship many years ago and later his own son would also serve on the same ship. Pete Seeger said those words to the writer’s son at that time.
Since I have chosen to write about teaching and learning, I have done a lot of thinking about my own education. My first job teaching was at a state school and hospital (no longer in operation), and I was employed as a full time substitute. There were so many teachers absent on a given day that there were actually three of us in that full time sub position – and all three of us always were needed. It was not the first time that my education involved more than just my schooling, but it stands out at this time in my life.
The students at the school and hospital were all adjudicated youth. Some lived in cottages and others, a tad more violent, lived in a lock down ward in the hospital building. Some of their crimes were indeed violent, but some of them were just seen as incorrigible and their local school systems had no way to deal with them. I recall some of them used to escape (the grounds were fenced in but the front gate was always wide open), and they would run across the highway to a large shopping mall, where they would panhandle money by intimidating the shoppers. They used the money to ride public transportation into the city and when they ran out of money or became cold, sleepy or hungry, they would approach the police and ask to be taken back to the school and hospital.
My first few days at the school were intimidating to me. Threats made, chairs thrown, insults yelled – I was almost convinced that teaching was not in my future. I did, however, learn a lot about myself, about children, about teaching and about society. In this case my formal schooling took a back seat to my education.

2 thoughts on “Don’t Let Schooling Interfere With Your Education

  1. dear Bruce,
    I would love to hear more about your experiences teaching – and learning – at this school.
    Thank you for sharing your life experiences.
    love, Anna Rose B.

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