When I was a kid, Martin Luther King Junior day was one of my favorite holidays. Maybe not for the reasons you may think though. And I don’t want you to think I don’t think he’s a great man and all. He did incredibly remarkable things for minority people in the United States. But I hated school, and MLK Day meant I didn’t have to go. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Martin Luther King Junior day than not having to go to school. And it is kind of ironic. He was fighting for civil rights and at times about the quality of schools. And instead of going to school to celebrate him we’re like, screw it, let’s celebrate his legacy of making education better by missing school. But k-12 education was my least favorite of learning.
We had just enough money to live in a house in the boundaries of a good school district. And I had just enough motivation, to get mostly passing grades. But most of the time, I was just doing enough to get by and/or faking it. One time in elementary school (ok a bunch of times) I stayed in our restroom for like 30 minutes. My Dad banged on the door, “JD, hurry up. You’re going to miss the bus.” I started dry heaving and putting cups of water into the toilet. I said, “I don’t feel good.” He said, “Open the door.” I proceeded to open the door and he said impatiently, “What’s the matter.” I said, “My stomach hurts, I threw up, and I have diarrhea.” He said, “show me.” I said, “Too late, I already flushed the toilet.” I learned something about my Dad at a young age. If I said I had a fever all I could to do is lay in bed. If I said I had diarrhea, it meant I could watch our VHS tape of La Bamba. But this wasn’t my first-time faking sick, and I don’t think it worked because I was sneaky. It was because my parents got impatient with me, and I was persistent with what I wanted to do. Persistence can get you pretty far in life. But my parents had work, and they also knew that I was a decent at school without having to go. I was an above average K-12 student, and I’m probably an average doctoral candidate. But the reason I can survive is I learned the rules of the game, and I learned the rules of the game well.
School in general is about turning in assignments. But grade school is about turning in assignments about stuff you don’t care about like, Mice and Men. I was lucky my Mom was an elementary education department chair, she had cliff notes on all these books. Instead of reading the books, I would dig through her boxes of cliff notes and show up to class like I understood all the deep underpinning themes about White people I couldn’t relate to. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. Who cares about George and Lennie from Mice and Men. They lived in the Great Depression, but they were still White. Granted they were poor White. But still they weren’t minorities and poor, so how was I going to relate. But I felt like that from k-12.
College is what I loved, and why after 10 years I’m still here. One of the best parts of college, to me, is the chance to think and learn about what you want to learn and think about. It’s unfortunate you have to go through 13 years of k-12 school before you actually get to learn about stuff you want to learn about though. Or at least that was my case. With that said, I’m going to celebrate MLK by not going to school Monday. I’ll also use it as a reflection time to make sure that I’m not wasting my time teaching stuff I (and more importantly student) don’t care about. I don’t think the King would like it if we were wasting our time on lame topics.