I’m Just a Travelin’ Man

Education Through Wanderlust

“Education begins with life,” said Benjamin Franklin somewhere.  That was how it always seemed to me when I was growing up in Southern Ireland in the 1970’s and 80’s.

I enjoyed some things about school, especially my secondary school—an experimental comprehensive, one of only two in the country at that time, opened to cater to us non-Catholic “ethnic minority” members.  There were subjects I liked—English, geography, and history—and I did well in them without even trying, because I was interested (although why they forced adolescent young men to read Silas Marner—which, even today, I find not the most riveting of reads—still puzzles me).  But I disliked the organized sports (and still do).  And there were many subjects I detested—mathematics, the sciences, and compulsory Irish—to the extent that I never even opened my test papers in these subjects when sitting for my final exams.

School seemed to place unwarrantable limitations on my preferred activities of smoking cigarettes and cannabis, gathering “magic mushrooms” on a nearby golf course when I should have been attending math lessons, and “singing” and playing guitar in a rock group.  To this day, I am almost entirely ignorant of anything in mathematics beyond the 12 times tables, and I still could not pass muster on C.P. Snow’s...

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