Not a fan. Sorry. I am just not a fan of school. I have had a decent amount of years in school and I can confidently say that most of that time would've been better spent chewing gum and staring at cloud patterns. I may in fact do that after I am done writing this, if I can find where the gum is.

I will preface by saying that I am in favor of education, or at least what the educational process should be about. There is tremendous value in opening the mind to all kinds of ideas, facts, perceptions, and opinions that come from all kinds of people. I just don't think that in general the system works. I swear people come out of school more clueless than when they went in, or at least wondering what the hell that was all about. If I get down to what I think should be the outcome of an education, it is this: you should know the basic facts of the world, how it works chemically, financially, historically, socially, etc. You should know how you work, biologically and psychologically. You should know how to work with numbers and words well enough to balance a checkbook, understand mortgage rates, write a resume, read a classic book. But most importantly, school should help you figure out what you are good at, what your passions are, and encourage you and support you in finding a way to combine those to make a living.

I think back to the first day of 1st grade. When dear old Miss Lurvey, who was in her 70s and seemed just incredibly ancient to me, wrote on the blackboard a big letter "A," I thought, "oh no." Oh no no no. She is going to start teaching reading from the letter A. I can remember feeling stunned and so disappointed. Of course, I didn't have any view of what she had to accomplish in a class of 25 kids -- I only thought about that I could already read very well and that this was a nightmare. I didn't think about how most of the kids could not read, and it was her job to teach them. But it was also her job to do something with me, and that didn't happen. I spent almost all my elementary school years in the library, waiting to be called back into the classroom. The only option the school gave my parents was to move me up a few grades, and they declined to do so. My education was a triple fail: the school, my parents, and me. I could have made more of it, asked more of it, and didn't. I was prepared for nothing except to expect less of the world and myself.

Teaching is an incredibly difficult job. Your day never really ends -- you are always planning and thinking and grading and worrying, well past school hours until when you crawl into bed, and often after. You have to try to please the state, the school, the parents, yourself, the students, and we all know you can never please everyone. There isn't one way of teaching that is right for everyone, but educational boxes abound. Really excellent teachers are rare, the natural ones. They just have an intuitive feel of how to present information and how to get it across to each individual. They are undaunted by bad attitudes, learning disabilities, class clowns, ESL students, looming standards tests, and pushy parents. They love what they do, and are energized rather than burnt out by the challenges. There are many very good teachers, that sometimes cannot keep going past the difficulties. There are many mediocre teachers, and there are far too many people that have no business teaching at all. There are many people who would love to teach and would be good at it, but can't live with the low-pay/low-prestige/low-rewards perception. How did we get here? When my mother taught school, teachers were valued and respected members of the community. Do a check right now: when you meet someone for the first time and they tell you they are a teacher, what do you really think?

I know there are some people who thought their educations were pretty good, all in all. I know some feel more like me. A great education is an invaluable, priceless gift. If I could think of a way to deliver that to more people, I'd be pretty damn happy. But first we have to make people believe in education again and make the benefits real. Daunting task.