In a post on my other blog I mentioned that I had a new instructor/professor for two of my classes this semester, and that he is a character. Aside from the man being a down-to-earth, funny, 60-ish-year-old, he also has an awesome story. And perhaps this is what makes him so light-hearted and humble. He explained during a lecture on the history of the repression of science between 200-1000 AD — the dark ages — that there is almost always, unfailingly, an issue or a few that it takes people a while to move beyond. For example, the role of women to be the ones “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen” when prof was a young boy has changed and is continually, and thankfully, evolving way past that. Another issue cited was the civil rights movements of gays and lesbians and racial minorities. What makes people move past preconceived notions like, “Well there’s only two Chinese families in my town; one owns a restaurant, and one owns a laundromat. So they must all own restaurants and laundromats.”? The answer is education, according to prof. And I agree.
Later the subject of education came up again, and prof detailed his fascinating history for us students. He had dropped out of school in Grade 8 for lack of interest. “What was I to do now?” he said, “I only have a Grade 8 education.” Realizing he had to go back. He started attending night school, only to find that he was engaging with the material because the teachers who were presenting it actually made it interesting! So he stuck with it, got his education. Then, he had a baby at 19. Well, not him personally, but he was partially responsible for the production of a baby. So he got a job driving transport trucks for Gay Lea foods. You might think that’s the end of the story: he retired a hard-working trucker. But since he was standing up in front of us an accredited college professor, we knew there was more to the story. Prof went back to school, university this time. I’m not clear on the timeline as my Rain-Man-like recall is failing me slightly, but I think he went back in his mid-20’s. The man who stood in front of us 40-some years later has four university degrees: three bachelor’s and one master’s, if memory serves me. He is also an accredited counsellor. He has taught high school science, and shop class. “We would learn something in science class one day, and we’d go over to shop class and try to make it!” While he was telling us all of this, I called to my mind a bit from comedian Louis C.K. that mostly resonates:
Now, as it relates to the video, Prof. I suppose is a hybrid of the guy with three PhD’s and the 55-year-old garbageman. Not a perfect analogy, but hey, I just wanted to throw an hilarity-filled comedy bit into this post. So, anyway, long story short, all things considered, all things being equal, I’m blown away by Prof’s story, specifically the persistence of conscious thought on which he operated and continues to do so today. Also, something that really strikes me about Prof’s career choice is just the Pay-It-Forward nature of his story. The man believes in education just as the people who taught him believed in it. And I think he is turning me into a believer as well.
This post comes on the eve after my application to university for the fall. I can’t help but draw at least one parallel with Prof’s life story. We were/are both a similar age when we went out for post-secondary endeavours. I represent the persistence of conscious thought that drives us forward. He represents the nuanced yet simple renaissance man that I aim to be. We both aim for change through education, one that betters ourselves and our communities. And, believe it, that change is gonna come.
This song popped into my head out of the blue yesterday. Had to share it.
I wasn’t sure which version of this song to put up (there are so many good covers), so I will just go with the original — Sam Cooke – A Change is Gonna Come