Thursday, June 09, 2005

Estudyante Blues

Thanks to Phillip’s blog entry, I’m reminded of my school days.

When I was applying for that blue school in Katipunan, I took their entrance exam calmly. I knew it was a test, I knew that it was important. But for some strange reason, I was more excited than scared. Maybe my mom wasn’t putting too much pressure on me. Maybe the proctor who administered the test made me feel at ease (even after ushering me in the room alone with my mom waiting outside). Maybe it was the playroom atmosphere of the testing area. I still remember how I easily drew a line through a maze—and that particular test was done on acetate paper, flashed on a screen via overhead projector. I remember how the proctor said, “Very good!” I remember being led out after the test, with the proctor telling my mom, “You have a very bright son there.”

I remember how happy and proud my parents were when they received the notice that I passed the test with very high scores.

A few years later a door-to-door salesman selling Encyclopedia Britannica came to the house and was doing his sales pitch to my parents when he called out to me, “Come over here.” He showed me a black-and-white picture—it looked like abstract patterns at first, but in a flash my eyes got it and it just clicked in my mind. “Can you tell me what it is?” he asked. “A moth,” I said. It was camouflaged seamlessly with the background. The salesman was incredulous, but he used that as an excuse to say to my parents, “See, you have a smart kid! You should get these books for him.” We had a full set of encyclopedias by that night.

When I was in grade 5 they created an honors class and I was placed in it. This continued until 4th year high school. And every start of each school year our homeroom teacher would always remind us of why we were in that particular class: “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

Many years after, my continuing struggle to this day is to strike a balance between the intellectual snobbery they inculcated in me and the spiritual humility that the Universe is bent on teaching me: “You may be a smarty-pants, McKiddo, but you’re still single, mwhahaha!”

Whoa. Now where did that come from?

Anyway, terror math teachers notwithstanding, I think I became less fearful of teachers and of school in general, and became more apprehensive of specifics—particular subjects, tasks to be performed, requirements. I embraced the learning process even though I was not particularly fond of it. It was something I was expected to do well in.

And that attitude carries on up to this day. I may be done with school but I’m still a student of life. And life continues to throw long tests and surprise quizzes my way. One thing I’ve learned is this: intellect is intimidating, but wit is winning.


Okay, theory is great. Now all I got to learn is how to apply it.

Sigh. Unlike school, life offers no vacation breaks.


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