My name is Philip Godin, I am a 27-year-old male who attends Thomson Rivers University. I took the History 3510 (Childhood and Education in Canada) to meet the requirements of my degree. Initially I was uninterested in the course material, but it eventually began to intrigue me. One of the assignments in class was an examination of personal experience with education and I am going to use this space to elaborate and create a more thorough personal recollection.
I was born in 1990 and a year and a half later my mother decided that she was not prepared to be a mother or deal with the responsibility that came with that decision. I was a planned child, but the reality was too much for her to handle. Her and my father parted ways amicably and got a divorce. Later when I was around three, my father began another relationship with a different woman who I would come to know as mom. This is when my education began in earnest.
Mom was dedicated in my upbringing. She began to tutor me in mathematics and arts by the age of four and these are my earliest recollections of education. My father purchased his first computer in 1995 and much of the software that was purchased was to help me learn. I was also enrolled in preschool and this is where my learning disability became apparent.
I suffer from ADD and ADHD, now in adulthood I treat these with a single medication, twice daily, but during my youth I went untreated and undiagnosed. For those who don’t suffer from this or are unfamiliar with it, the easiest way for me to describe how it affects me is that I cannot concentrate on any one thing for an extended period, I become hyperactive when not in motion to the point where I can experience physical pain if I don’t do something, repetitive tasks cause extreme boredom and restlessness, and I have several visible ticks as the symptoms manifest themselves and can become agitated or even aggressive.
As I entered into the public education system, my disabilities caused me many problems. It was very hard for me to develop personal relationships with other students because my hyperactivity was often an obstruction. I was enrolled in a French immersion school until the middle of third grade. This complicated my education because the dual language education was incompatible with my condition. Teachers were constantly frustrated with my inability to stay still and lack of attention span. I was almost held back in third grade because my teachers believed I couldn’t read. I could read, at a much higher level than most at that time, but my concentration problems lead me to skip pages, even paragraphs on a page. The third-grade teacher in the French immersion school was abusive, often yelling at me, calling me names, and ostracizing me in the class room. My father pulled me from the school as a result, but not entirely altruistically.
In the year before this time my father and the woman I had called mom split-up and my father began a relationship with another woman, who I shall refer to as Q. Additionally, my birth mother had reestablished her relationship with me. So, my condition was exacerbated. Though I do not condone the actions of my third-grade teacher, I understand now that I was an extremely difficult student at the time. I was suspended twice during this period of household transition for fighting, both times another student had insulted my mother and I initiated physical combat.
My father and Q enrolled me in an English primary school. Additionally, they were told by the school board that I should put on Ritalin. My father was strongly opposed to medication, as was Q, and chose instead to seek alternative treatments, focusing on my reading ability. They found a woman who specialized in teaching students with focus issues and she over a two-year period trained me to overcome some of the more serious issues I had through willpower and focus training exercises.
I moved through four different elementary schools between the last half of grade-three and the sixth grade. This caused me to build very few relationships, with other students and I was often bullied by students because I was the outsider in these student communities. As I would start to integrate and become a part of a community I would move on to a new school and must start fresh. Mom had instilled in me a love for self-learning, and I spent most of my time at home educating myself or, after I discovered my father’s collection of fantasy literature and Dungeons & Dragons game books, either reading or creating fantasy worlds.
My grades began to degrade severely in the sixth grade, to the confusion of my teachers and parents. I had become bored with the content of the public education system. I had either studied the material myself or was uninterested in the content being provided. I purposely began to try to do the least amount of work possible to get passing grades. This was a trend that would continue into my high school education until the twelfth grade, except for courses taught by teachers I like or subjects that I was interested in.
I continued my self-education through high school. Due to differences between Q and myself, I left home at 14, to live with my grandparents. I returned home when I was 16, and then left again to live on my own. I finished high school while working full time and got straight A’s in grade-twelve so that I could pursue secondary education without any upgrading, though I chose not to take grade-twelve math as it was too study intensive and I was planning on pursuing a philosophy degree in university which wouldn’t require it.
I didn’t get medication for my conditions until after I took several semesters of university courses the second time around. I dropped out of post-secondary education my first attempt due to mental instabilities from my childhood and an inability to both pay for courses and provide for myself. I was unable to receive student loans as I had not been out of my parent’s sphere of influence for the required four years.
I am still dedicated to learning outside the recognized systems, but I understand that I am an oddity.