Tag: Education

Unexpected Back to School trauma


It’s back to school time in America. The focus is on formal, institutional, classroom-based schooling. The curriculum has scope and sequence and the teachers have lesson plans. Regardless of teaching technique or curriculum design, the measure of success is always, “Do the students learn: do they acquire new knowledge, master new skills, and develop new habits that take them a step closer to allusive responsible adulthood?”

With all the back to school hoopla, you might think summer is a learning free zone. Not, so! Some of the most important lessons in life are learned outside the classroom. They aren’t part of a lesson plan, or an institutional curriculum. These life-lessons are learned unexpectedly by experience.

The professionals call this non-formal education and truth is, it never stops… there is no graduation party. Learning is life-long.

God created us with, not only the capacity to learn new and wondrous things, but he instilled within us, an abiding curiosity and an insatiable appetite to know more, to solve problems, and to find answers. He created us to change and be changed. It’s in our DNA. Learning is is the process that changes things.

It pushes our faith deeper and forces us, whether we like it or not, out of our comfort zones. Life-long learning is an unpredictable faith challenge, a God given process that makes sense of the past and provides motivation for the present.

“The pursuit of certainty and predictability is our caution speaking. Freedom is the prize, safety is the price, what is required is faith more than fact and will more than skill.” Peter BlockThe answer to how is yes


In the summer of 1958 we moved. I didn’t want to move, but I didn’t get a vote. Looking back, it was a great adventure; but, living in the moment, it was 20 on a 1-10 “hell on earth” scale. New home? New school? New friends? New fears?

Making the transition from Elementary to junior high is tough for any kid, but my first week…? Well, judge for yourself.

They lost the placement test I took in elementary, so I was assigned the cafeteria that first morning. There were eleven of us “new” kids, and for the first two days we were tested to see if we could fill-in the right little bubbles with marks from #2 pencils (staying within the lines).

On the morning of the third day we were told to report to the Vice Principal’s office for our class schedule. It was a pink slip with room numbers and teacher’s names, but no map. Just as I walked out of the VP’s office the last bell rung. I was late and I had no idea where Room 17 was. New! Late! Lost!

By the time I found Room 17, I was terrified. I waited outside the door for a few seconds, trying to collect the courage to walk in.

Then, at the moment I finally opened the door, the class erupted in laughter. I knew they were laughing at me. My skinny frame sported thick horn-rimed glasses and embarrassing new “tin-grin” braces. Not daring to look up, I walked over to the teacher with my eyes fixed on his shoes.

When I handed Mr. Bell my pink slip, he responded, “Oh, no!”

I wanted to run away, to run faster then the wind. I wanted to hide, to disappear, to die.

He pointed to a chair by the door and said, “Sit there for now. We’ll see about getting you a desk tomorrow.” (He probably said “oh, no!” because there were no more desks in the room, but I’m still not sure.) I sat there, never lifting my eyes, replaying Mr. Bell’s words over and over in my mind.

As soon as the bell rang I bolted out the door and headed for my next class, hoping it would be better. Then, I noticed I had Mr. Bell for Science and Math.

How could this day get worse?

At lunch, three big kids bumped up against me in line and told me I had to give them all my lunch money. So, I handed over 35 cents. (but, it was the last time. Never again!).

My new school certainly lived up to its name, Downer Junior High (Edmond Downer Junior High, San Pablo, CA).

I survived that day. Years later, I realized how much I had learned. Life lessons are like that.

God was there that day, but I missed him. I really missed him.

When I got home, I headed straight to the kitchen…I was starving. Mom, asked, “How was junior high?”

I headed to my room muttering, “Fine.” But, it wasn’t fine at all.


Life lessons tend to come attached to stories. Go to Story Status on Facebook and share one. Or, leave a comment on this Post.

What life-lessons have you learned? What kind of lifelong learning have your experienced?

What are you still learning? Lifelong lessons catch us off guard. They sometimes hurt and frighten us. They challenge and shape us. They change and morph us. But, they always teach us. learning happens all the time!

And, inside each lesson is a glimmer of growing faith.

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August 22, 2011 | 0 Comments More