Dropping Out Before I Got Recruited
When I was asked to write PR proposals for solving BP’s oil spill crisis, I knew it was time to drop out.
I was raised to believe in the importance of an inquisitive mind, an openness to new ideas, and an evolving knowledge of the history of the world as well as the present. My experience of education sometimes reflected this but more often felt like an oppressive corporatised structure more focused on careerism than learning.
My mother, who as a teacher was constantly being reprimanded for teaching non-approved texts, would admonish me for receiving any grade lower than an A-. My father, who refused a scholarship to continue his graduate studies because of the oppressiveness of the university structure and instead took his education in the back alleys and used bookstores of the world, insisted I complete my homework every night. I was fortunate to attend fairly good public schools as a child. While poor, my parents were determined to invest time where they couldn’t invest money in my learning. I was lucky in that sense. My elementary and high schools funded Te Reo/Māori language classes, art workshops based on various religious and cultural traditions, dance and drama productions, political debates and music events. Still, my best learning, reading, and talking happened at home.
I didn’t grow up with a television, although we did hire them from the local rental store for brief periods while my mother was working on a film, so I didn’t totally miss out on my classmates’ pop culture references. It meant I spent more time reading, writing, and listening to music. The sacrifices my parents made for education were not the run-of-the-mill variety. I rarely had new clothes but we always had discounted tickets to international theater shows. I didn’t get to go on the school skiing trip but my mother sent me to Hole in concert. Our roof was falling apart but we still made it to Medellín, Colombia for the Festival Internacional de Poesía. I argued about these experiences, complaining to my mother that we couldn’t afford them, and she calmly explained they would contribute to my greater understanding of the world.