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Photo by Honey Yanibel Minaya Cruz on Unsplash

We Don’t Need No Education Redux

A Poem for Anti-Intellectualism and Reverse Snobbery

Pink Floyd put it well

When they said they didn’t need “no education” —

They referred to teachers

Who berated children,

Who used arbitrary authority

To control weaker human beings.

It’s easy to assume abuse is thought control,

All teachers petty tyrants,

The purpose of education the diploma.

“Pick up a gun,” they tell me. “Put on a uniform,

The government will pay for more education.”

“Great!” I say. “But what if I’m deaf or have flat feet?

What if I’m a conscientious objector?”

“You’re supposed to be smarter than me,” they say.

“Figure it out yourself.”

So I did. I got scholarships, borrowed from Mom and Dad,

Avoided loans when I was hired at the last minute

To research medieval fragments.

Many choices were made beyond my control.

Many things happened by happenstance,

Divine Providence, or dumb luck,

And, still, when I graduated

I needed a job.

I typed obituaries

Because what else does an English major do?

I typed obits until a former prof

Hired me to teach comp part time,

Driving 60 miles one way, getting paid four times a semester,

Not paid during summers, yet upholding workloads

Of professors who had benefits, nice salaries, and parking spaces.

My true journey began,

But it took so long to get there,

And I had no family or mortgage to keep track of.

I lived my dream on my terms, or so I thought.

So, yes, I figured it out

As best I could. That does not make me smarter,

Better, or more talented than anyone.

It just makes me more me, who I am called to be.

Tomorrow, I may be called to be something else

And many more choices will be made beyond my control.

I’ve learned how little I know, but I do know this:

Education takes many forms, and there are many teachers,

But we need education as we need to breathe;

We need to encourage and promote learning,

Not punish students with lifetime debt for trying,

And we need to admit we are in this together

And there is no such thing as

“Figure it out yourself.”

Written by

Author of super-hero/sci books, False Alarm (2015), The Power Club (2017) and The Secret Club (2020). He lives on the fringes of the middle of the Midwest.

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