I went to public school all but two years of my forced education. The two years of private school were drastically different. The contrast of these two schools is what formed who I am today. My first private school experience was at age 8. I attended a small private school in rural North Carolina. Every one there from the instructors to the students were caring and giving. There was very little bullying and when there was it was halted immediately most by other students but occasionally by the instructors.
This school had a lot of alternative options for the students. This was 1980-1981 and I had my first chance to use a computer at this school. The instructor taught us how computers worked and also explained the internal parts and functions of a computer. These were also Apples, not your everyday IBM PC of that era. We were also given extensive time outside, often basic classes were outside on nice days. The headmaster had two dogs and they often ran the campus where we could socialize with them.
The next year was a new town, new school, new culture, bad experiences. Assuming all private schools were as good as the last, I was enrolled into a catholic all boys school in Tampa, Florida. Most instructors were nuns, although they dressed casually without the normal habit and garb. The instructors had no concerns for the students and attention was only given in the form of negative discipline. I would witness many students paddled to the point of child abuse even for that time.
I was the personal punching bag for kids 3-4 years older than myself. Once I was tied to a tether ball pole and kicked repeatedly for ten to twenty minutes simply because I hung out with the “other kids”. The “other kids” were of different colors and cultural makeups than the typical white catholic kids.
One of my friends was from India and he and I stayed pretty tight as a means of defense. He was hindu therefor he would not put his hand over his heart or raise the flag. This became a difficult situation for him since each student had to raise the flag during the school year. He was punished with a week of in school suspension, which meant he sat in the office during classes and completed his studies. When my turn came around I took a stand and refused. I had no religious or cultural basis for my refusal other than my friend stood up for himself so I was taking a stand with him. I received the same punishment as he, and learned that it also included slaps to the wrist with the metal end of a ruler on an hourly basis. With all that, I was born into the rebellious punk kid I am today.
The next year I entered public school in urban Tampa. Woodrow Wilson Junior High school would be my fate based on geography. This school had a drastic mix of poor and rich. I saw everything from kids dropped off in limos to kids walking in torn up shoes. My latter years at this school were the Miami Vice days. Again these things shaped my life as I was witnessing drug use, sexual activity, and the use of alcohol by minors. Often I would hear stories of how great the weekend party was, the keg, Saturday Night Live, so on. Each story made me thankful that my Mother offered me discipline and safety without force. I was free to ride my bike whenever and wherever, yet I was given gentle guidance to become a decent human being.
These were the developmental years that made me punk rock just before I found punk rock. I remember vividly being handed a Suicidal Tendencies tape along with a Minor Threat tape. These were played to exhaustion and I often hear them in my head with the slower worn out beat from an excessively played tape. Now I was alive and all the talk of keg parties, drug use and so on were just a reason for me to laugh and not be them. The lawyer, doctor, bankers kids had nothing on me and I was not going to be like them. For better or worse I am still not like them and I am growing further from them every second.
The bullies of this world have become out of touch with humanity, and all that we share on Earth. We must be caretakers, not exploiters. We must also appreciate all the hardships that have come in our lives for they along with the good are what make us who we are.