You Go To School And You Learn To Read And Write

Daily Prompt: Can’t Drive 55

I haven’t posted for one of the daily prompts for a while – or anything else, come to that – but I was rather taken with the challenge in today’s, which reads:

Take the third line of the last song you heard, make it your post title, and write for a maximum of 15 minutes. GO!

As I’ve been fighting headaches and a migraine all week I haven’t listened to any music since last weekend, so I had to check on my iPod what that last song was. It turned out to be this:

As I’ve mentioned before I am a long time fan of Steve Earle, and this song comes from his first full-length studio album, Guitar Town, which was released in 1986. The third line of the song goes:

You go to school and you learn to read and write

A fairly basic statement, until you hear it in the context of the song, which is about the frustrations of a young man growing up in a small town wanting to get away to see ‘what’s over that rainbow.’ The next line is:

So you can walk into the County Bank, sign away your life

Get the picture? The song is really a mix of those frustrations with hope that the future will be better, all based on the belief of youth that the world is a much better place everywhere except in the small cocoon that encloses them. I know, I was young once, and my memory hasn’t completely gone. Yet. As I approach a major change in my life it does in some strange way feel like I’m a teenager again, with so much to look forward to. The big difference is that I’m not dreaming about what my life may hold and what I may make of it, but how I can spend my time enjoying myself, doing all the things I’ve wanted to do but haven’t yet done, and hopefully still making a useful contribution to society in my own small way. That’s a kind of dream, isn’t it? To my mind, there’s nothing wrong with having dreams at any time about what life may hold for you – being without some hope is like giving up on life, which is not something I’m planning on doing any time soon!

But let’s go back to the song line that started off my thoughts. At its most basic level it is a simple statement of fact: everyone goes to school, and reading and writing are the basis of all forms of learning. All of you reading this must have gone through some schooling to be able to be here now. But I know that people read this blog from a huge number of countries worldwide, not all of which have such a developed education system as the USA and the UK, where the bulk of readers come from. We take education as a right, as a given part of our lives. My education has taken me to university, to a Masters degree, and supported me through my working life. I have been able to read anything I wanted to along the way – even if I still have to look up the big words in a dictionary from time to time. I’ve always seen this as an entirely natural thing, and the opportunity to have a good education should be a given for everyone, regardless of where they are born. Unfortunately, even in the 21st century, that is still not the case everywhere. Maybe, when we sit and think about our frustrations with life, with our dreams of something better, we should also think how lucky we are to do that – not everyone even knows the rainbow exists and that there might be a better place beyond it.

A final thought: the song that started this off has been covered several times. I’ll leave you with my favourite of these, with the beautiful voice of Shawn Colvin

25 thoughts on “You Go To School And You Learn To Read And Write

  1. Claremary P. Sweeney September 11, 2016 / 2:38 am

    Yes, I think it is interesting that we both were writing posts about hope and enjoying life at the same times. Fall must bring that out in people.And I do hope you are enjoying your retirement to the fullest and still making plans.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive September 11, 2016 / 8:21 am

      There must be a seasonal factor at work here! I can thoroughly recommend retirement and it does provide plenty of time for making plans!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Soul Gifts August 31, 2016 / 2:43 pm

    I’ve now had the pleasure of being retired for four years. My husband joined me at the end of last year. Both of us are busier than we ever were before but doing the things we want without the stress and pressure of deadlines 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive August 31, 2016 / 2:48 pm

      That’s the major benefit for me, the removal of stress. If you’ve seen why I started blogging you’ll know how important that is to me. I’m glad it’s the same for you too/two.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. joanneeddy August 31, 2016 / 2:23 pm

    Good morning…or afternoon to you Clive, I always love it when you post on Senior Salon, and this was timely for me. Doug and I are just months from retirement and equally looking forward to enjoying ourselves and exploring different ways of being in the world. I’ve always been a fan of the expression, retired not expired! Now reading and learning will be on things I choose just because I want to and find I am interested. I hope your day is going well…over here it’s time for a second cup of coffee! 🙂 Jo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Clive August 31, 2016 / 2:38 pm

      Good afternoon/morning Jo. Thank you, that’s very kind of you. I hope you and Doug will enjoy a long, enjoyable and interesting retirement. Looking back on my own thoughts three years ago has reminded me that I still have much that I want to do and achieve, which I think is better than being in the position of having done everything and wondering what to do next! I’m going to be returning to this theme in the next few weeks. Hope your day is going well too 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Stevie Turner August 29, 2016 / 6:26 pm

    Some people leave school totally unable to read or write. It makes you wonder what they’ve been doing at school for 11 years (if they’ve actually turned up in the first place)!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive August 29, 2016 / 6:28 pm

      Their parents and teachers might have to share some of the blame for that!

      Liked by 1 person

    • thejuicenut August 30, 2016 / 11:59 am

      Some children are perfectly competent intellectually but struggle to get their thoughts down on paper in an organised fashion, sometimes because they are overwhelmed by those thoughts and ideas jumping over each other, sometimes because of faulty wiring, others as a side-effect of a medical condition, pr theough undiagnosed dyslexia – I have experience of all of these instances. Schools cater for the middle ground in most cases and are not equipped for the super-intelligent nor those who struggle for want of proper diagnoses and lack of specialist teaching or equipment. Too many children are put in remedial classes who don’t belong there and are given the same ‘teaching’ when they have differing needs.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Bernadette August 29, 2016 / 5:00 pm

    Good essay Clive. Yes, the world would be a finer, better place if everyone had access to an education.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive August 29, 2016 / 5:27 pm

      Thanks Bernadette. That’s the first time anyone has ever dignified my scribblings by calling them an essay! I’m planning another in the next few weeks to mark my three years of retirement.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Clive August 29, 2016 / 11:20 am

    Reblogged this on Take It Easy and commented:

    This came up in my timeline today as a memory from exactly three years ago today. At that time I was just over two weeks away from retirement, and it seemed natural to be looking ahead. It is only a short post but, because of what it represents for me, it has always been one of my favourites. As most of you reading this wouldn’t have been following me way back then, I thought it worth giving it another airing. I hope you like it.


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