|Adolescence (Photo credit: kevinthoule)|
Building a Person
If those baby years are the foundation, the educational years are the time when we build upon that foundation. Our education consists of honing our mental faculties and learning social skills. Prior to school, most of us probably experienced relatively sheltered lives where we felt like the center of a universe that primarily consisted of our families, relatives, and other people with similar background. After our first day of school our world becomes radically changed.
Now we are thrust into a social environment that forces us to interact with teachers and other children. It becomes more difficult to run to the security of home and parents. We learn to cope and become more independent. Most of us adapt pretty readily--it's either swim with the flow or try to cling to whatever it is we hope will save us. Adaptation may vary depending on the foundation that was established in early life. Some kids have a tougher time than others, but they're all in it together.
These school years are where the memories start becoming clearer and more organized. Since we are older and have more experience with life, we understand things better and can put what is happening in life in better perspective. We usually will develop friendship relationships that can last for many years and in some cases into later life. The basics of getting along with others and dealing with conflict on our own begin developing early on and grow as the educational years continue. Some will fall short in these endeavors, but most of us manage.
The daily educational curriculum forces us to learn new skills and gain new knowledge that will assist our intellectual development. Our aspirations of what we want to be after we graduate and become adults may come into clearer focus. We are aware of our abilities and interests.
The school years are rich in activities and milestones that stand out in our minds. Stories about the events become ingrained within us to be told years later. Much of our memory will hopefully be happy or interesting, however some may be hurtful and even traumatic. The events all become the narrative of the years of education.
Mining for the Memories
I can recall a great deal of my student years, but I have probably forgotten more than I can remember. This is a time of life when I can't always ask a family member about what happened because often they weren't there. But that is always a good place to start. Some of the memories will be shared experiences while other memories may be second hand or something they can relate to their personal memories.
One of the best prompts for each school year are my class pictures. When I was younger I wrote down names of students who I remembered on the pictures. Those names can be easy to forget over the years and having written the names can revive memories when I look at those pictures. My high school yearbooks are especially valuable to stimulate the nerve endings of my recall.
Another help is that I have saved many old school papers and documents. Report cards and official school records can be very useful. Copies of the high school newspaper have reminded me of things that I had totally forgotten. It would be impractical to try to save everything from those years and I have culled out much that did not seem would ever be useful. However, I have kept many school papers, tests, and drawings that can take me back to that time long ago.
Unfortunately, other than school pictures, I don't have many other photos of the school years. My mother may have some, but I have not seen those for many, many years. I'll have to check one day to see what she still has. Old photos are by far one of the best helps in remembering years gone by.
Some things I do have are souvenirs, mementos, and collections. A post card collection that I started when I was young recounts family vacations and other milestones. My stamp collection is something I spent many hours organizing when I was in my years before high school. It's been many years since I've looked at it in depth, but I can guarantee that if I were to break it out and comb through it many memories would be stirred.
What are some things that you still have from your school years? Did you keep a diary that you still have? Do you have mostly good or bad memories of the school years? Or do you remember much at all?