I never liked homework. Didn't do much of it in junior high (as my sorry grades confirm). These, my friends, are my yearly averages in 7th grade (Hiram Schools, 1956-1957):
- English: C (yes, I became an English teacher)
- Phys. Ed.: A (I liked to run around and hit things)
- Arithmetic: C+ (too high: I was an ignoramus)
- Geography: B (I'd traveled a lot in the USA--relied on my experience, not on study; I threw up one day in class--got to go home)
- General Science: C+ (I hated it, spent all my time in the back laughing with friends and looking at the automobile engine stored back there for a reason I don't know)
- Art: B- (a gift: I sucked, big time)
- Music: S (my voice changed that year: from canary to crow in just a few weeks)
My parents soon despaired, I think. My older brother, Richard, was on his way to becoming valedictorian (then off to Hiram College, to Harvard grad school, to a long career as the classical music critic at the Boston Globe). My younger brother, Davis (we called him "Davi," rhymes with "Davy"), would also be high school valedictorian, Harvard B.A. and Ph.D) and has had a long career as a business historian (Link to his company, The Winthrop Group; Cambridge, MA). And I? I was floating along in the gutter, heading for the drain. (I exaggerate.) (I think.) My career plans were simple, as I've written here before, I think: catcher for the Cleveland Indians, then, during the off-season, star on Broadway. After all, I was the starting catcher on the Hiram High Huskies! Played major roles on the Hiram High stage! Of course I would become a professional at both.
Anyway, my dilatory ways continued in high school, though I began, there, to show some signs of recovery--especially in the humanities--though I never really dazzled anyone, except the phys ed teachers, who gave me A's. But my senior year, I had a B+ yearly average in English, B- in German II, A- in American government (I loved the teacher, a young woman--and I mean loved), A- in Advanced Math (a kind teacher, also one of our basketball coaches). I was doing a little more homework, though generally (always?) lying when my parents asked if I had any.
College--again, I slowly emerged and improved, doing well in some classes (English, German), not-so-well in others (Calculus, where the prof, I swear, wrote on one of my miserable tests: Can I help you cry?). Off I went to teach in Aurora, Ohio, and to start grad school at Kent State a few years later, where I finally started doing my homework all the time, had only one B+ the entire time (I would still punch that prof in his fat face if I saw him on the street! I will find him in a nursing home; I will shove him into the goldfish pond outside, watch him flail around, laugh).
All of this is a long introduction to telling you that I am doing my recently self-assigned homework, the novel Silas Marner that I miraculously avoided having to read in high school (see the two earlier posts about it). A chapter each night (most nights--I guess I'm still putting off some homework).
And I've reached two conclusions: (1) I like the novel; (2) there is no f*****g way I could have read it in high school! Long sentences, difficult vocabulary, long paragraphs, 19th century English country customs (WTF?), dialect. At Hiram High School I would have failed all the daily quizzes, the final test. And essays about it? Fuggetaboudit. I would have stuck with the adventures of the Cheerios Kid on the back of the cereal box. Much better writing ...