For the most part, high school was almost useless for me. Most of what I learned didn’t carry on past my high school graduation, and to be completely honest, I didn’t learn a whole lot that would have been relevant for me in my university years. Hell, I spent the bulk of my senior year NOT IN SCHOOL. I had a car, one of my favorite teachers had retired the year before and the only classes that I needed to actually be present for were the ones that my PE Teacher/Basketball Coach taught so that I could stay on the basketball team. So I was always present for Psychology and Physical Education. However, I had these things called “Spare Blocks” where I was supposed to go sit in the library and work on my harder subjects that I’d be writing Provincial Exams in: English, History and English Literature. The school also let me take Spanish, History and English Lit as distance education courses…you can read that as: Lot’s of “Spare Blocks” where I was supposed to do school work, but obviously didn’t.
Yes, I still got all the work done. High school work was easy and what was supposed to keep me busy for one hour and fifteen minuets, kept me entertained for maybe thirty minuets if I wasn’t working fast.
The upside to all these empty blocks of time in my education was the fact that I had a lot of time to do other stuff. Like drop my sister off at school then go home and nap until Psychology or PE. Or go for ice cream at the really good ice cream place in Rayleigh. My friends and I also had this weird and intense love for KFC fries and gravy. In all seriousness, we would eat that stuff day in and day out given the chance. Nothing was better than high metabolisms, spare time and a large box of KFC fries with about 20 packets of ketchup and a large gravy.
But despite all the dicking around that I did in high school, despite the fact that I technically didn’t finish my Career and Personal Planning requirement for graduation and despite the fact that I had to maintain a C average to stay on the basketball team, I did learn some things from some very great teachers that carried on with me into university and semi-adulthood. I mean, yeah, I didn’t learn a thing from my crazed science teacher who liked to wear thongs to school and my form shop teacher turned Vice Principal was an over all jerk, but I did manage to learn how to…
5. Increase my vocabulary and use it to my advantage -Thanks to my English teachers Mr.H, I had spelling tests right up until the end of my senior year. Or at least I got them in the years he taught me, grades 10, 11 and 12. However, not only did we have to learn how to spell, but we had to learn how to use these words in sentences too. Admittedly, some of them weren’t easy words and some of them were tricky words to get the hang of, but by the time I wrote my provincial exam I had a plethora of words at my disposal. Words that I can’t actually remember because I actually use them enough they’re not a big deal anymore and words that made writing my first university essays a little bit easier to get through. Of all the things in my high school world from physics to Career and Personal Planning to Math, learning how to spell was one of the best things that I learned how to do in high school.
4. Write really good essays with really good thesis statements – One of the things that I’ve always hated about university was getting to paper writing time and having my Profs and TA’s stand up and tell the entire class how to make a good thesis statement to guide your paper. It made me wonder what the Hell everyone else was learning in high school because even though I was absent unless my presence was required, I still knew how to write an essay. I remember literally spending hours agonizing over an essay assignment that my History 12 teacher gave us where we had to have this thing called a “thesis statement”. I can remember wanting to slam my head off a wall trying to figure out what Mr.H wanted when he asked us to write a paper with this “thesis statement”. Mr.A ruined my TV watching/homework time for weeks because he actually gave me homework that I had to concentrate on and really think about. The frig was a thesis statement?! I cursed, I got confused, I cried and then I eventually understood what he was asking for. I got to university and realized what he had prepared me for. How many teachers can honestly say they prepared their students for their university years as well as Mr.A had me prepped forwriting the dreaded university essay?
3. Speak two languages outside of English…a little bit – Thanks to Mrs.B I was comfortable with going to Mexico and actually using the little bit of Spanish that I knew. I mean, yes, my favorite phrase meant “I’m sorry! I don’t understand! I don’t speak Spanish”, but it really helped while I was exploring the streets of Playa Del Carmen. Learning the beginnings of French and Spanish seemed like a waste of time to me while I was in high school, but it was easy, it was fun and I got good grades doing it so I went with it. The funny thing is, nothing improved my grammatical mistakes like learning French and Spanish. Heck, learning other languages improved my sentence structure and has kept me from coming off as a raging moron when I write. Not sounding like a raging moron is a big deal in my book and thus, I salute my high school language teacher.
2. The game of basketball is won and lost in the post – My high school basketball coach taught me a lot of things in high school. Mo is, in large part, one of the reasons why I know how to work as hard as I play and to push myself as hard as I do. The biggest thing she taught me was to take care of the little details in life. Think of things this way: In a basketball game I will probably make 8/10 shots in the post while an outside shooter might hit 5/10 shots outside the key. If that were a basketball game, I’d win 16-10. Heck I’d still win if that shooter were hitting all their shots outside the three point line. It’d be a close 16-15 game, but I’d still win. Now if on defense I play really hard and make the girl I’m guarding hit 6/10 shots, I win again 16-12. In the grand scheme of winning, it isn’t the big stuff that wins the game, or even the big winning shot at the end of the game. It’s the fact that everyone on the team took care of the little things. The post player makes all of their little shots and stops the person they’re guarding from making their shots. This is an over simplification, but the point is: learning how to take care of the little things makes the big things and the grand scheme of your schemes easier to accomplish. This might not have been the point Mo was trying to make and she may have just been convincing me to work harder, but this is what I took from it leaving high school.
1. Take really good fricking notes – Believe it or not, but I take really good notes. I don’t have the neatest of writing, but I take really good notes that cover all the things that I need to know and that I can easily follow. This is all thanks to Mr.A who insisted on a good note taking system from the moment I landed in his Grade 8 Social Studies class. I don’t use Roman numerals anymore, like he did, but I still do follow the basic idea of what he drilled into my head that year and the three following years I was in his class. Naturally it made my post secondary education easier, but it also made my adult working life easier. How many adults do you know who can take a really good set of notes during a meeting or during a conversation that you need to remember later? Heck, thanks to my ability to take notes, I’m really good at writing proposals other shenanigans professional adults get up to.
Obviously I didn’t use my teachers full names, but Mr.A, Mr.H, Mrs.B and Mo are real and true people. Mr.A gave me a huge appreciation for the social sciences, Mr.H instilled a love for literature, Mrs.B showed me a passion for linguistics and Mo was an all around inspiring woman. I never skipped their classes…though that may have been because they were the few teachers who would actually punish me for such shenanigans. In a world where I napped in the paint room during Shop because the shop teacher was a perverted nut job, my crazy science teacher took naps during class and one of the vice principals I had was an overall dink, these teachers actually made an almost pointless 5 years worthwhile.
I mean, yeah, high school was a blast, but it was almost a pointless endeavor.
Though I wouldn’t change it for anything…KFC fries and gravy are that good and I happen to like some of the things I learned.