May, 1968: While the majority of our eighth-grade class was practicing for Junior High School graduation, I found my self in a lonely classroom in the school, surrounded by guys who A) skipped school on a regular basis - B) the class bullies and - C) guys who wouldn’t know a book if it punched them in the face.
I didn’t fit into any of the above categories, and yet still I found myself, at the tender age of 14, what in popular terms is known as a “flunky.”
There were a variety of reasons, just one of which was my own particular form of attention deficit disorder, plus the fact that, at times in my younger years I was a natural target for bullies, and tended to never open my mouth in school; this may go some way to explaining my contempt for bullies and those who would excuse their behavior in any way.
But sitting in that lonely classroom, looking at my fellow academic failures, I vowed it wouldn’t happen to me again.
I know what sort of people I wanted to hang out with, and the sort I didn’t want to be associated with, or compared to.
It took a lot of self-discipline, but the following year I was able to leave the stigma of flunking behind me. Ironically, I also developed more self-confidence, as well.
Except in gym class - I still can’t play basketball worth a damn; I can drool but I can’t dribble.
C'est la vie.
When a kid flunks, especially when they do so as impressively as i did, there is often a tendency to throw them under the bus, to consider them irredeemable. But such is not the case.
Young people can overcome the stigma of academic failure, and find success . . . but it is up to the kid in question whether they see the value of effort.
For the most part, it is up to the young person in question. But it is also up to the rest of us - if we allow children to fail, we fail as a society.
Quote of the Day
When you’ve been used to doing things, and they’ve been taken away from you, it’s as though your hands have been cut off. - George Eliot, “Felix Holt”