Monday, November 14, 2011

The Way I Figured It

Apparently, I’ve always been a little stubborn, especially when it comes to learning new things. The conventional method of teaching; repeating the same stuff under constant supervision, just annoys me. I don’t want to take forever to be taught something in small increments. Just tell me what to do, or show me, and I’ll figure it out. I don’t want to keep “learning” it over and over.

Which is why in fourth grade, I made an “executive decision” that all the repetitive schoolwork the teacher assigned didn’t really need to be done. All those endless sheets of math problems, (and English and spelling), were just a useless exercise to me. Social Studies and Science were not included in this self-proclaimed ban on schoolwork because those two subjects didn’t feature the same material repeated again and again. I could learn new things, instead of boring myself with the same lessons. After all, how many times did I need to demonstrate that I knew how to do simple addition and subtraction? There are only a 100 possible problems of each. Even multi-digit problems are reduced to single digit equations, a fact my teacher failed to fully appreciate. Neither did she appreciate my choice to disregard her assignments. Every day she’d hand out our papers and every day I’d throw them in the trash.

This continued for the entire quarter. My teacher tried to get me to cooperate but hey, I was 10 years old! I didn’t need her to tell me anything. After a few weeks of no papers being turned in for my “selected” subjects, she started sending letters home to my parents. She wasn’t exactly the brightest teacher in the world, because she sent the letters with me. Of course, I promptly filed them in the circular file marked “trash.” Then the phone calls began. But those were easily dealt with too since she called after school hours. By that time, guess who was home? I’d answer the phone and hang up. Then, one fateful day, my little scheme came to a sudden end.

I still remember the evening my dad walked into the house direct from the parent/teacher conference. I’ll spare you the gruesome details but as you imagine he was not pleased. In his hand was a bulging manila envelope. Inside were copies of all the papers I’d thrown away. Three months worth of work in Math, English, and Spelling! My dad said I had until bedtime to have all the work done – and it had to be done correctly. He expected a passing grade on every paper. Now, the teacher, I could ignore and defy, my dad was a different story.

I conceded defeat and disappeared to my bedroom with the stack of schoolwork. At 1:00 a.m., I came downstairs with the work completed. I turned it in the next day but was not graded on it until a week later. Apparently, my teacher wasn’t nearly as motivated to grade it, as I had been to get it done. Yes, I did receive a passing grade for the quarter in all subjects, although I was docked several points for all of the incompletes.

Throughout the remaining years of my schooling, I never repeated the stunt but still held the adamant opinion that repetitively doing things I already knew how to do was a waste of time. And I knew that once I got out of school, I’d never do such a thing – who needs to compute simple math problems over and over anyway?

Well, time to end this blog. I have to balance my checkbook.

Bruce A. Borders, author and songwriter has over 500 songs and 9 books. Over My Dead Body, his latest ebook, is available on Apple I-Pad®, Amazon Kindle®, Barnes & Noble Nook® and Sony Reader®. For more information, visit or

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