Books Aren't the Only Way

And the anecdotal stories of the "drunk kid taking his exams". (It's a tad bit of a long one...)

I suppose one way of starting this off is to introduce myself. My name is Jon. I live in England near the south coast. Many beach days are had in the summer. We'll get to the drunk bit later on...

Despite the vast amounts of beauty this area has to offer, it is a rather pricey place to set up residence in the country. The general rule of thumb is the further north you go the better (Once you've cleared London that is!). I was taught this catch 22 while very young. Hearing adults talking about it when I was around 12, my mum and dad mentioning it, family gatherings and so forth. This just further enforced the usual school atmosphere of "If you don't do well in your GCSE's at Secondary School, you're rather buggered".

When I was a little younger than 12, probably up until I was around 11, I used to watch a lot of documentaries, kid's science magazines, and general nerdy stuff. Because of this, at school and with my friends I was known as a fairly smart cookie. Apart from Maths... This was a double-edged sword. Up until I was about 14, I didn't really ever try at school. I didn't have to revise for spelling tests; I usually got by. Science was a cakewalk. History classes were somewhere to get some sleep and English classes I actively enjoyed writing so that was a good old jolly most of the time. I became very lazy with school.

Then the tumultuous times of being 15 & 16 came. I got myself into a relationship. The typical "Blinded by love" scenario. My entire educational career had been a piece of piss on the walk up to GCSE exams so I thought nothing of it. A month or two before final exams the relationship ended abruptly and emotionally violently. I didn't really see a point in too much anymore. That coupled with my, seemingly, inability to actually work hard and study, I started walking out of classrooms, walking up to teachers in the middle of class and saying variations of the phrase "I'm not doing this, screw you" (9 times out of 10 with vast amounts of expletives), damaging property and being a bit of an OTT teenage delinquent. The whole smoking thing especially. Starting to see a pattern? 

I started a downward spiralling decent into educational inadequacy and all but gave up on the final exams. I say all but gave up because I still turned up. Turned up with so much vodka and rum in my system, it still surprises me to this day how I managed to climb the stairs to the exam hall. I'm pretty sure the majority of the time I had my arm draped over a friend. I did the typical teenage act of replacing the vodka in my parent's alcohol cupboard with water in the mornings. After they went to work, out came the breakfast rum shots! These days I usually have toast. Much more gentle on the liver first thing in the morning.

Because of my various bad decisions surrounding my school performance and effort, I managed to scrape by with some pretty mediocre and rubbish GCSE grades. But hey, it got me into Sixth Form, the next stage of education. A system I grew to loathe for many reasons. To me, I felt penned in by how I was, almost, allowed to learn. If I was learning about ancient Egypt, I was only allowed to read and learn from the books the school supplied me. If I was learning about something construction related, I was confined to the materials my solvent abusing teacher deemed suitable. To be honest, I'm not sure if he was a solvent abuser, he just sounded like it. Like he frequently put his poor nostrils through hell. Anyway...

The common method of learning pissed me off no end. I wasn't allowed to learn what I wanted to learn, or how I wanted to learn it. There is the argument of you don't want kids to learn the wrong stuff but I disagree. They should know it's incorrect sure, but let them read it. "Knowledge is power" I believe I remember seeing a poster advertising in my junior school library as a child. Either way, I knew I had to get out of education. Leave the books and get my hands dirty.

I got an apprenticeship in IT and have built a little career with it now climbing through the ranks and the pay ladder. I pay my own way. Bought my own car, pay my tax and my rent all on time. I was the person that said "oh bollocks" out loud during an exam. If it wasn't IT, I would've been a vehicular engineer in the army. There's always something you can do. If you're in the shit, you can always flower. After all, fertiliser is pretty much cow turd isn't it?

If you're ready to put the hard graft in, you'll go far. Whether that's working stupid hours in IT and taking your work home with you, working on a motorcycle in the garage until early hours of the morning, working in a kitchen getting your arse handed to you because you didn't quite cut the chicken just right, you don't have to stick to the books. School systems are very narrow. You're not a narrow person. Nobody really is. Now flower and spread your petals. The world is your oyster.

Get stuck in.

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Books Aren't the Only Way