A to Z Theme 2016

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton. This meme is a natural for me to use on my memoir blog. It's an A to Z concept and it's about me. No research and nothing complicated. I'm given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me.

In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated. In the midst of it all you might learn a few things about me that you didn't previously know.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

School Days: Building Who We Are

           In this post we continue to consider The Stages of Life for the Purpose of  Memoir.   My previous post, Memories of Baby Life:  Do We Have Accurate Recall?, looked at the formative years that shape the basis of how we see ourselves and how we perceive that others see us.  I think it would be accurate to say that the preschool years form the foundation of who we are.

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?


  1. I haven't kept a diary of my schooldays, but one memory in particular I remember is how I hated poetry, why I don't know but the thought of reading and reciting it filled me with horror, Who'd had thought I would write poetry in later years and have two books published,

    Most interesting post to read Lee as always some subject to get those grey cells working.

    Enjoy your week-end.

  2. My parents kept a history classwork assignment from the 4th grade. I don't know why. It was simply answering questions at the end of the chapter, and I'm pretty sure I plagiarized the textbook, because those answers sound pretty darn good for a 9-yr old. Maybe they thought I was brilliant. Maybe they admired my penmanship. I remember weird things like being afraid of getting my eyes checked in the first grade and my friend offering to stand there with me. What does this say about selective memory???

  3. I remember very little before the age of about eleven or so. Once in a while my brother and I sit down with a few old photos and start talking about our memories from around the time of the photo...I should actually take more than mental notes during these times, because I've always wanted to write a memoir..when I was in high school I started keeping a journal, although there were a few years between then and now where I didn't write anything down, I've been journaling pretty steadily for the last twenty years or so..I have all of my high school year books...the journals I kept at that time are still in my Dad's house. I have none of my elementary or high school report cards, but the funny thing is that I have many of my mother's old report cards from the '40's when she was in grade school! It is kind of bizarre to see what kind of grades and comments my mother got in grade 4..and see my grandmother's signature!
    Hey, congrats on the number of Twitter followers you have Lee...I just noticed the little birdie to my right..I haven't been on Twitter for a thousand years!...anyways, thought provoking post today!

  4. Yvonne -- Interesting that you would have hated poetry back then, but I can relate to that. I used to hate things like history and it's a topic that fascinates me.

    Wendy -- That's interesting about the eye exam fear. When I was in third grade my eye exam revealed that I needed to wear glasses. I was so embarrassed about wearing them that I would take them off after I left the house. My parents would have my younger sister spy on me to see if I was wearing them. I hated those glasses. Think I'll write a post about this some time.

    Eve--It's not a bad idea to take down some notes when talking with family members. I will often call my mother while writing a blog post to see what she remembers about what I'm writing about. I never kept journals or anything like that, except for dream journals. I wish I had, especially during childhood and high school. I'd love to peek back on those days to see how I felt about life.
    I hardly have time to go to Twitter or Facebook. Social media is so time consuming.


  5. Dear Lee, I have three large scrapbooks from my school years. In them are pictures, drawings for school projects, mementoes like prom cards, and school newspapers.

    The truth is, however, that I've been posting on the school years once a week for about five and a half months and I've never looked at those scrapbooks. I've just been sharing memories that have stayed at the front of my mind all these years.

    So I'll get into those scrapbooks in the next week or so and see what they prompt me to write. Thank you for suggesting this! I'm enjoying your series. Peace.

  6. Dee- I'm much the same way. I have stuff packed away and rarely delve into it. I stick with my memories too.



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