I once had a PE teacher called Mr Gordon. He didn't really like it that his nickname was Flash. I vividly recall him confronting me in the corridor one day and asserting that I was a nasty piece of work who would never amount to anything. Based on what he knew at the time it was probably a reasonable, albeit excessive statement. I mean, people change, don't they? How many of us look back in time and see a person almost alien to us? And why should this ever come as a surprise?
If life doesn't change us then what will? If experience doesn't morph and remould our personalities then what are we in this for? I'm comfortable looking back and acknowledging that I was a less than impressive teenager. It would be dishonest to do otherwise. Yet I've always felt strongly that what we are isn't necessarily what we're always going to be. All the same, some things can be hard to shake.
For me the words of Mr Gordon often return when I'm facing certain academic or professional challenges. By way of example consider the following; I've just completed a three day course, the first in a trio designed to give me a basic skill set to carry out my new job which starts in May. During each of these courses there will be assessments to test what I've learned and how well the knowledge has embedded. Let it be known that very few things in life phase me; yet mention the word assessment and I break into a cold sweat and default to drama queen mode. Fortunately I haven't lost control of my bodily functions but there where times today when it was close.
These tests, which everybody else seems to breeze through, are an ordeal and a horror to me. I think this is to do with a fear of failure. I'm reminded of the past, of those days when I had no qualifications and very few live options. Nobody expected me to succeed and I just never seemed to fit into a conventional educational box.
My wife Joy, who ironically is a former teacher, says that I'm not designed for the education system. I don't learn conventionally; the knowledge all piles up in my head like landfill being emptied from a dust cart. It goes in but it takes a while to organise into the necessary patterns. This is why I always finish last in tests, why I wade through them like I'm plodding through treacle. I'm inept at demonstrating my ability under controlled conditions; it just kind of leaks out over time. If there's any purpose to this blog entry, and I'm not sure there is, it would be to admit to myself that I do fear failure, and yes I do learn slowly, and that conventional learning is an ordeal for me. It's just another quirk in my already oblique personality. And frankly one I would gladly swap out.