I hate school. This was my mantra for a good portion of my life. I hated grade school, detested junior high, loathed at high school, and despised my first college experience. To be blunt and crude screw those places. To be eloquent and artful, my hatred for those experiences burns in my heart with the fire of one thousand suns.
I hated school so much, that when I became suddenly jobless from my trained profession and unable to find work without returning to school, I choose to instead to work as a bagger for eleven years. I only ever considered returning to school when forced by circumstance and desperation. Basically, I was fired for showing up fifteen minutes late to work every day for eleven straight years.
I had entered a writing contest in the Dayton Daily News sponsored by the Antioch Writers Workshop, I took third. (Not that I’m bragging much.) Afterwards, I remember asking around about the workshop and Antioch in general. I learned that they had a pretty good writing program. I decided that, in spite of my distaste, I would try a couple of classes at Antioch. I’m not sure exactly when I was hooked. When that moment of really enjoying the experience of learning came to me. I do remember the first time I really knew why I loved this place.
I was reading a book titled, ‘Too Much Happiness.’ It’s a series of short stories about awful people. I finished reading the first story and dropped the book on the ground and walked away. Thankfully, I was at home, so I could go back and find it the next day. I finished reading the assignment and then went to class. We were discussing the book, I was asked for my opinion, and was too old and tired to lie. I related the early part of this story. When I finished, Doctor Saari said, “I believe, Steve has just bad mouthed one of my favorite books.” To which I replied, “I remember when I was passing this class.” We continued the discussion and near the end of class Doctor Saari asked if we’d learned anything from the book, as writing students. We talked about how to set up characters quickly, how to introduce multiple characters in rapid succession, and how to only show what you need of a character for the purposes of the story you’re telling. He told us it didn’t matter if we liked or disliked the stories he assigned, only that we learned from them. As long as we could pull something from them that made us better writers or readers, we had done what was needed.
That’s why I love learning at Antioch. I’m allowed to have an opinion. I’m allowed to love and like different things from all of my professors. With the exception of Professor Bosse, who maintains that I am wrong when I say, “I don’t like Hamlett.”
Antioch is a special place, where we’re all allowed to have an opinion. People might question it, disagree with it, and even not like it, but we do it respectfully. The one drive we have is to expand our experience and knowledge. We learn from each other as much as from text books.
We’re all different now. Not just because we learned at Antioch but because we taught there. I can’t count the number of times I heard a professor comment on a new way of looking at something. How a thing a student said, reported on, or a question asked brought up a topic of conversation that our teacher had never considered. Discussions ranging from is Holden Caulfield crying at the end because he’s finally realized he’s delusional to are Iago’ asides to the audience him addressing a hallucination, to whether or not Star Trek can still teach us about our own society.
Antioch has been one of the most wonderful and amazing experiences of my life. I’ve spent the last few days trying to think of the best way to sum up my feelings. To find words that would make the fact that I’m leaving here and not going to be back for the foreseeable future. After today, I won’t be a student of the university that I’ve love so much. I keep coming back to something David Tennent said as Doctor Who. In fact the last thing he said as Doctor Who. “I don’t want to go.”
Find em elsewhere around the web.