Friends, fools and finality. English
Just over a year ago, I decided to kick my scholastic career into gear, and that meant I needed to fix my old grades from high school. To do that I applied to Vindelns folkhögskola. Admittedly, the first thing that attracted me was the schedule; it matched perfectly with the times we had Zach at kindergarten. It soon became so much more to me than just convenience. In little more than a week, I’ll leave the place that so insanely quickly felt like home to me, to move on to new grounds and new challenges, and I admit that it is with a heavy heart that I will take my leave.
During my two terms I’ve gotten to know a wide variety of people from different cultures, creeds and ages, and for the first time in my 29 year old life, school has been fun. Everything revolves around taking responsibility for yourself, using discussions actively to find new solutions and getting to affect your school through democracy. It’s absolutely brilliant. The only real downside I see, is that sometimes the teachers are too nice and too accommodating… but that will work out in the end, I’m sure. They’ve tried creating an atmosphere that not only allows the people who have issues and problems with school to keep up, but also pushing those who are good at it to become even better. Is it a flawless system? No, by no means of the imagination. If one leaves it up to the student to take responsibility then the student has to be ready for it, or else it will fail. And some people have failed; failed themselves, and failed their school. But those are exceptions. Most people have grown into it, and taken it upon themselves to improve and build upon their own character. It’s pretty impressive to see.
At the start of the first term, I was quite nervous, especially when they told me that we’d be doing special projects all semester and that they wanted us to actually stand up in front of the class and present them. Speaking! IN PUBLIC! Fuck… it scared me to the point of almost leaving. There were quite a few times that I almost gave up and stayed at home, my future career be damned. But the atmosphere of cooperation and support made me dare to try it, and … it worked. My heartbeat never dipped below 200 BPM, and I threw up until there was nothing left both before and after my presentations. But I did them. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’m cured from my public-speaking-horror, but I’ve improved so much it’s almost insane. Now, I can even think about doing it without hurling. Progress!
My previous experience with school has been that the unit known as “the class” is nothing but a randomly selected bunch of idiots grouped together based on either age or some random aspect of where one lives, or why not both. This class has been… different. It’s been designed to span as much of society as possible, placing Muslims with Christians with Atheists with the rich and the poor and everything in between. At first, this seemed to me like a recipe for disaster – a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and in a group so random a few weak links are bound to appear… and they have. But instead of breaking, mostly what has happened is that we’ve worked around it to incorporate it without letting it come to a breaking point. I say mostly, because of course this isn’t true in all cases. Nothing is perfect. I don’t get along with everyone there, but I can (usually) treat those few I don’t like with respect anyway, and they in turn do the same to me. Usually. But what I really would like to talk about aren’t the so called weak links that I don’t get along with, but rather those that have made the group into something more than the sum of it’s parts.
Let me start with the teachers. I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed working with every single teacher I’ve had. Not all the time, and some things have really gotten under my skin – but due to their openness and willingness to talk about things, and actually admitting to being in the wrong has made even the smallest disagreement into a rare thing indeed. I’m gonna mention a few of them by name here, but those who remain unmentioned – fear not, you’re pretty damn good too. In essence, it’s a quartet of teachers that I’d like to single out.
Ulla-Greta, my English teacher. She’s the first teacher I’ve had in English that actually listened to my plea. I’ve spoken English fluently since I was about 6, and I’ve never really had any trouble with it. Granted, it’s not a very difficult language to grasp, but come on… how many people who speak English as their native tongue care enough to learn another language? And for the record, English is the third language in my linguistic arsenal (albeit the one I probably know best, even better than my native Swedish). Anyway, back to Ulla-Greta. She listened to me when I said that I’d taken a look at the curriculum and that it contained nothing that I didn’t already know, and when I asked if I could get other assignments that actually pushed me to learn even more, she gave it to me. She made sure I didn’t just slack off and do nothing, and pushed me into further developing my vocabulary and also my spoken English (something that desperately needs improving – my accent is fucking horrible). If she has a fault, it is that she’s almost too easy-going in her critique of the stuff I’ve written… but in turn, this has given me somewhat of a confidence in my own ability, and that helped me in starting this blog (oh how I HATE that term). Thanks for listening, and thanks for not letting me slack off. It’s just what the doctor ordered.
Micke, a teacher I had briefly in maths is my second target. While I had to drop maths due to unfortunate events (and also, I had the maths that the University demanded already), he did something that few teachers have been able to do; he gave me confidence enough to actually learn maths. It’s one of those things I’ve never really been any good at, but through not talking down to me and helping me see practical applications for the problems, he showed me that even I can overcome a godsdamned equation. Thank you.
Ellinor is (for at least another week) my teacher in Swedish. She’s the main reason that I’ve actually taken an interest in writing stories and essays in Swedish, something I haven’t done in quite a long while. Also, she’s the only teacher in school who’s really strict about keeping to the schedule and that’s also helped me a lot. I’m notoriously lazy, and had I been given the chance to slack off and just do stuff at home or whatever, and not show up at school, I probably would have. Also, she’s the yoga-teacher, and the fact that she hasn’t bugged me about showing up there (hey, it’s not mandatory!) has also been a bit of a blessing. Thank you.
Lillemor is the last teacher I’d like to mention, and also the one that I have had the least classes with. When it comes to morning meetings and projects, she’s El Jefe, but otherwise she’s just a silent presence at school. She’s the go-to person when a problem needs solving, and it’s in that capacity that she’s supported me. She’s guided me through the application process for my upcoming studies, and she’s done her very best in helping me with a few personal issues I’ve had with school. Yet again, if she has a fault as a teacher, it lies in being too nice and too democratic in the way problems are solved. Anyway, thank you.
There’s a fifth person that I’d like to mention too. He hasn’t been my teacher, but he is a teacher. Åke is the one that has pushed me with arguments and given me new perspectives on things. The one that constantly has poked and prodded at the way I think and write, the one that has provided a fresh set of eyes and haven’t been afraid of pointing out different problems and flaws, but never in a way that makes you feel belittled. It’s been a true honor arguing with him. Thanks.
The second group of people that have made my experience at school into a really good one is of course my fellow students. I’m going to miss a lot of you, and it is because of you I don’t really want to leave. There are simply way too many lovely, funny, smart, kind and open people to start naming names, but you guys know who you are. A few of you I’ll take with me. I’ll carry you in my heart and try to keep you in my life as much as possible. I feel I’ve made friends for life, and that’s a bloody rare thing. Thank you for making me laugh, thank you for listening to my ranting, and thank you for opening up to me, and ranting right back. Thank you for helping me with my speaking, with my writing, and most of all, thank you for helping me want to be a better person.
You guys fucking rock.
“Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right.
I hope you had the time of your life.
So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial
For what it’s worth, it was worth all the while”
Green Day – Good riddance