I've been a student most of my life. As a child, I was a reluctant student, finding it difficult to get up in the mornings to get off to school. Maybe if they'd had later hours it would have been easier. I didn't really hate school, I just hated getting up. A false tummy ache was declared many times in order to convince my mother that I was sick, but she knew my tricks and it rarely worked.
In high school I'd get up just a few minutes before I had to leave for school. No breakfast. I quickly threw on some clothes, brushed teeth and hair, and headed out.
Although I got great marks in school, I didn't work hard for them and was not a dedicated learner. I was bored and uninterested in most of my subjects, and if you ask me what I learned in all those years that serves me now, I'm stuck beyond the obvious math, reading, language, and basic science knowledge that one seems to need throughout life. Oh - I did take Home Economics and learned how to sew. They tried to teach me how to cook too, but I had better teachers - my mother and grandmothers.
As an adult, I've continued taking courses that are geared to my interest or my work - and in many cases, both. I'm very lucky to be doing the type of work that also happens to be what I enjoy. Learning is fun, and a challenge, and I put everything I have into it. In my second career (information technology), keeping current is required. Let your skills become obsolete and you are no longer marketable.
Miguel's education history is very different than mine. Growing up in the mountains and expected to work on the land, he had little time to attend school or do his homework. I hope one day he will write about his perspectives on that, it is very interesting.
At the age of 14 Miguel's father brought him to Isla Mujeres to help work at Aquarama (now Zama's Beach Club). Aquarama was similar to Marineland in Niagara Falls - dolphins, sea lions, and other aquatic and non-aquatic creatures. Although Miguel learned a lot while working there, his formal education stopped.
Later Miguel joined the military, and continued his education. He was part of the special forces and learned some skills that will serve him for life.
Somewhere along the line Miguel learned spelling and math - he spells perfectly and uses good grammar, and knows how to calculate the square meters of a construction site. He is very interested in current events - he watches the news, studies geography on the internet, and knows his history and politics.
To me, formal education is just one way of learning. Living life teaches us things that better prepare us for the future (if we pay attention). But nobody gets certification for figuring out how to pick oneself up off the ground after the loss of a loved one. Nobody gets education credits for teaching a child the lessons of life, for writing a blog that reaches people all over the world, for cooking a fabulous meal for 25 people, or for knowing how to repair a leaky pipe. How does formal education help one live life other than through work and a paycheck?
But now, Miguel wants to complete the formal education he missed out on. Yesterday he went to 'school' here on the island, to take a test to determine his level. It's a school for people who are beyond the age of normal students - people who now want to finish their formal education.
Miguel said that there was one person older than him, and many others - about 30 - many women, at the school. Some were there to complete primary levels. All were there to continue their formal learning, and to receive the piece of paper stating that they were now educated.
I applaud all those students for making the commitment to get their education. I wish I'd known as a child what a privilege it was for me to have all those years of schooling - years where my only task was to get up in the morning and go to school and learn. I resented it then. I appreciate it now. Sort of like a few other things in life - things we take for granted at the time, and only when we look back do we realize and appreciate what we had.
Buen suerte a Miguel! (and all his classmates)