by Yule Heibel on October 6, 2003

Yesterday Jeneane Sessum wrote about me on her blog. Today I’m blogging about that. Is this recursive? Inversive? Perversive? Who knows? All I know is that she wrote this really generous post about me (me??), and I want to thank her for it. I’m constantly on the brink of shutting this blog down, and feedback like Jeneane’s make me feel that there is a point to writing about issues you care about.

She has this big problem with her local school’s inability to meet her daughter Jenna’s needs (check out the post and all the comments it has generated). Sounds distressingly familiar, alas. Meanwhile, my friend Betsy in Florence posts a comment in my post yesterday — da-da-dum-dum, the shit is hitting the fan for her, too. Read her story, and if you know anything about alternatives and possibilities in Florence, Italy, please let her know. Or buy so many copies of her books so that she can make enough money to write part-time and keep Sara at home….

Jeneane’s original post generated many comments from people who were clearly exceptionally bright children, and who suffered from being cut down to size, and who continue to rage, particularly now that they have children of their own.

There’s a sociology Phd topic here. For example, my husband had a great school experience, but of course it took place back in the 17th century when things were different. He went to a teeny-weeny public school that was all-boys, with a baccalaureate graduating class (the only kind, dahling) of under 20 (compare that to factory-sized high schools with their graduating class sizes…. makes you wonder). You had to be academically gifted to get into this school in grade 4 or 5, so we’re talking selective, elitist, etc. He was always number one in his class, without, naturally, ever really hitting the books. He went to the same school for eons and developed fairly close friendships; the kids were done for the day by 1:30 pm, with nary a touch of homework, and everyone went to hang out or play soccer or go swimming. No wonder he liked school! (N.B., those days are long gone: you won’t find a single school like that in Germany anywhere.)

My experience was nearly the exact opposite: I went to about 9 different schools in my 12-year career (n.b.: neither Werner nor I went to Kindergarten; we both started school in gr.1) — my parents moved around a lot and my family background was quite dysfunctional. I went through the Canadian system and graduated from high school (first in my family; everyone previously had to go to work). I skipped grades, I learned languages in passing, I had some good teachers and some really atrocious ones. I was bored a lot: I drank and smoked a lot while still in school. Really a lot. I wanted to figure out how to make money so that I could escape. I had no idea about academics, since it was already an achievement to escape waitressing as a life avocation. I aimed for art school, with a career in advertising in mind. Unfortunately, I was side-tracked by professors at UBC & elsewhere who gushed about how extremely intelligent I was (and cute, too!) and how I should use my abilities. Fuck that, if I had gone on with a practical career, I could be sitting on a pile of money by now — hey, Edina Monsoon would look like a PR midget compared to what I could’ve done!! Instead I ended up with degrees from UBC and a PhD from Harvard. In art history. Really useful, that.

I sometimes think I could be a poster child myself: “This was a gifted child who had no support at home and only intermittent recognition from the school system. She has a humanities PhD from the biggest humanities name-brand university in the world. If you gave her a job, would she perform, or try to blow up your department?” Hmmm?? Well?? What would she do? And how in hell did she end up a homeschooling mom? Oh yeah, back to the beginning: …So, I sez, I started school, I sez, I sez… Well, you get the drift.

I’ll get back to this topic later, but for now, thanks again to Jeneane.


Jeneane October 7, 2003 at 11:18 pm

Don’t you dare stop. You can go away from time to time, take a break, but don’t go away. What you have to say is too important, and your writing is wonderful.

That being said, I’m in awe of how much you write, how deep you go, in your posts. You’ve given me links to things here in Atlanta from the other side of the continent that I didn’t even know existed. I wouldn’t have even known to look for them, let alone what to look for. I see that in lots of your posts.

Hang in. But, man, you must be tired. I can completely relate to that. 😉

Yule Heibel October 9, 2003 at 12:08 am

Tired? Huh? Did someone say something jus’ now? 😉

Yeah, I get tired, but mostly that tiredness takes the form of being depressed. If I get pissed off about something, it gets rid of being depressed. Ah-ha!

But seriously, thanks for your comments, it’s really great to know that someone is reading this from time to time. We all just want to connect.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: