​​​​​​​MY EDUCATION WAS INTERFERING WITH MY LEARNING

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Submitted Date 04/02/2019
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My Education Was Interfering With My Learning
Age 14-17, Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire, 1958-1962
-- This is one poem, in an autobiographical series of poems, I posted here at WriteSpike. Go to my stories section for others. They are in chronological order. --

The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.
~ Albert Einstein ~

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
~ Pablo Picasso ~


At 10 pm my lights out
I listened for the heavy-footed master
who stopped and checked each door
for cracks of light
as he descended the circular stairwell

I knew the sound
when he hit the bottom
- a faint echo up the well -
letting me know that danger had passed

but to be sure
I pushed clothes against the cracks
pressed the blind flat right up to the window
then covered my desk lamp
with a heavy flannel shirt

at last
my light back on
the time was mine
and for stolen hours
I could see things my way

condemned to four years
at my father's alma mater
I thought I had no choice but to survive -
yet this world was not my world
and their gods were not my gods

surrounded by rules of grammar and logic
I craved a different realm:
sensual, emotional, wordless

and where I escaped to
was my father's love
of classical music -
memories of evenings
with ginger ale and ginger snaps
as we listened to symphonies

so at midnight I played Sibelius,
Beethoven, Brahms, Bach and Bartok
on my earphones -
with no teacher to tell me
how to hear what I was hearing

alone I learned
to grasp directly what they were saying -
it was just between the composer and me

and sometimes after an hour
with a piece I knew note for note
I was moved to 'air conduct' -
a secret I shared with no one

then
about one or two, my freedom spent
I tore down my world
and fell to bed
- homework undone -
knowing that at seven
I would rise again
to shake off my lack of sleep
and chalk up another day

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  • David Ross Washington Jr 5 months, 2 weeks ago

    surrounded by rules of grammar and logic I craved a different realm: sensual, emotional, wordless
    I loved this part, this is so me and my struggle with the world of technical vs the world of artsy and those to parts of me that I'm both great at (analytical and artsy), and struggle to find a balance between the two of one that I'm naturally great at, and one that I'm naturally great at, live in, and have a passion for.

    • Rick Doble 5 months, 2 weeks ago

      As you say you need to do both. This school, however, did not appreciate the artistic side. But today I could not write if I did not understand grammar and such - so each has its place.

  • David Ross Washington Jr 5 months, 2 weeks ago

    on my earphones - with no teacher to tell me how to hear what I was hearing
    "alone I learned to grasp directly what they were saying - it was just between the composer and me" I so connect and relate to this. Love this. This is so beautiful.

    • Rick Doble 5 months, 2 weeks ago

      There was a point in school when I just got fed up with a teacher telling me that a novel meant such and such or Beethoven was doing such and such. Instead, we needed to be taught how to open ourselves to the wordless messages of art and not confine our experience to a narrow conception.

  • Tomas Chough 5 months, 2 weeks ago

    Great as always Rick. I also wish education focused more on people's creative side. Thanks sharing!

    • Rick Doble 5 months, 2 weeks ago

      The 'party line' is that teachers want us to be creative -- the reality is that since creativity is not standard, it is a bit threatening to the normal way of doing and seeing things.

  • Miranda Fotia 5 months, 1 week ago

    yet this world was not my world and their gods were not my gods
    I know the feeling. Great poem! You are such a good storyteller!

    • Rick Doble 5 months, 1 week ago

      Thanks. That's a wonderful compliment. I think of myself as a cross between a poet and a storyteller.

  • Kiersten Felch 5 months, 1 week ago

    All artists feel this at some point: that everything they are trying to stuff into our heads gets in the way of the important things. Wonderfully put.

    • Rick Doble 5 months, 1 week ago

      Artists tend to be independent and like to view things from their own unique perspective.