Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Heartbreaking Story About the Value of Education (By Brian Katcher)

Why no one gets nostalgic about junior high.

This is my grandfather's college ring. The son of poor Russian immigrants, he never had much formal schooling and never went to high school. Nevertheless, he knew the value of a good education. As an adult, he decided that he wanted to follow the American dream and achieve the goal of being a college educated man. So he went to the pawn shop and bought this ring and told everyone he was a graduate of St. Louis U. Though I never knew the man, I see a lot of him in myself.

That's my father's doctoral dissertation. When I was in high school, a friend chided me when I admitted I had never read it. "Your father writes a book and you don't even read it?" Feeling like a terrible son, I vowed I would read it that very night.

It's been over twenty years and I still haven't read it. It's just pages and pages of statistics about how vice principals view their principals. Dad would be the first to admit that it's pretty tedious stuff. I can't imagine the agony he experienced writing this thing while working full time and raising two children. And this was before computers and electric typewriters. 

The funny thing is, Dad never went to high school either. He was expelled in the 10th grade, but was still kind of a legend in his neighborhood, being one of only two kids who actually made it to the high school. 

Don't know that I've ever told you this, Dad, but I'm proud of you.

My mother is also a school teacher. I don't have any cutesy pictures of her in school, as she was too busy trying to raise two kids while she got her certification. I love you, Mom. That could not have been easy, not by a long shot. I didn't really understand that at the time.

My wife is also a teacher. The first year and a half we dated she lived 200 miles away, as she was going back to school to get her certification.

I too, am a teacher.

So what's the moral of this story?

Education is for suckers. A college degree is only a pawn shop away.


  1. Yeah, that generational education/teacher thing. We have four generations (that I'm sure of) of teachers in this family. My grandmother Della, was an elementary school teacher, my mom was a 7th grade language arts teacher, my wife and I both taught-me as the head of an adult education program in a mental hospital, she as a nursing professor, and our younger daughter teaches in an inner city school in the Bronx. Must be something in Maine water, methinks. Being a librarian was a better gig, but neither paid especially well. Guess that's why I turned to robbing banks as a retirement hobby. Oh, and my minister credentials came from an ad on a book of matches, plus a check for $10.00.
    I do know how much pride you take in what you do as a teacher. And the books are a way cool bonus. Thanks for writing them.

  2. I agree to you. It’s just a title but as long as you understand things and could explain well, you’re educated.

  3. I agree also Since w're young we want to understand the things, all the things to prove that w're educated.

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