Thursday, March 23, 2006

Is boarding school to blame? (paca)

So the readership of this blog is about 2/3rds people that llama knows and about 1/3 people I know. Unfortunately for them, I am much more long-winded than llama. Another interesting fact is that, I gather, large numbers, if not all, of these llama-based readers are old classmates from an interesting public school in Louisiana. They attended a state sponsored public school, but one that is a boarding school for gifted and talented juniors and seniors in high school. All, please correct any of this which is wrong. One of llama's friends, and a regular reader, recently posted an interesting bit on her blog, which if I may quote is this:

"one of the things that came up in my most recent therapy session is life skills.  my therapist is familiar with LSMSA and people who have gone there.  she observed that one of the problems with going away to school earlier than most kids is that you loose out on some life skill instruction... this doesn't mean we didn't learn how to get ourselves self up, do laundry, maintain some sense of order, and the million other things that go into being responsible for yourself... but that you miss out on the actuall instruction part that you get from your parents.  so you figure that you can go 2 weeks without doing laundry but don't learn how to keep up with laundry on a daily basis... or that ramen noodles make an excellent snack but you miss out on meal planning and cooking dinner at home." (e, if you don't want this quoted here, please yell, and it is gone)

Now, I'm thinking that if these folk lack life skills by going to school away from home as a junior (maybe at the age of 16?), then I, who went to boarding school in New Jersey, from Louisiana, starting at the age of 12 and graduating at 16, must barely be able to tie my shoes on a regular basis. Now , everything the therapist says is true in that I much prefer to put off laundry as long as possible until there is nothing left that's clean. I prefer not to do dishes until the sink is full unless there are just gross ones. Whenever I am alone for a day, which is rare, I often don't eat or just scrounge up snacks until I don't fill so dizzy.

But I am not sure this has anything to do with not gaining certain life skills from my parents. This is the way I do everything. I have been gathering all of the manuscripts for my journal and will edit all of them in one huge marathon session over the next few days. When I pay bills, I take each one out of the envelope and tear off the return portion and stack them all up, then pay them. I just can't pay one bill and go to the next one. I have to organize them with return stub piles, to be filed piles, and garbage piles, and then write the checks. One reason I have such a hard time with regular exercise is that there is no obvious goal. When I decided to run a marathon, I ran literally through snow, because I knew I was going to accomplish something in a few months. I think these are just my weird habits. I put off anything that doesn't have a goal that I can see on the horizon, and I am not sure it has anything to do with being a kid who went to boarding school.

Now, boarding school did have an impact on my life in many ways. One is that I never really grew up with my parents, going through rituals of dating and curfews and such. My curfews and when I could see girls and rules on drinking and smoking were all set by the school. Boarding school also perhaps made me more distant than I ought to be. I sometimes have a hard time shaking the belief that education or the good job or public duty is more important than family and friends. I guess I am just saying that my procrastinating on long-term maintenance sort of things is my general personality, and I am not sure it is particularly due to attending boarding school. But maybe so.


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pacatrue said...

I'm leaving Baldo here as the strangest comment ever received.

Sammy Jankis said...

Personally, I don't know what made me laugh out loud . . . erm, louder. Mr. Baldo's comment or yours.

Now, for your post. And I don't mean to pry if it is too personal, but I'd like to know more about the boarding school you went to. Was it competitive admission? Was it involuntary? K and some others frequently refer to LSMSA as a boarding school. I always associate a negative image with that term. A boarding school to me is where bad kids are sent, or the immensely affluent.

I always thought of LSMSA as a residential high school because (as far as I know) everyone went there voluntarily and had to self-opt into the application process.

I was just curious about the format, structure and reason for the boarding school you went to.

As for the therapist's opinions of boarding school student's personal development, I think that is a crock. Sure, most people I know who went there procrastinate to the utmost. But there are many who went there who were obsessively clean, tidy and punctual. I don't find there is a larger population density of procrastinators among boarding school students than among the general population.

Honestly, I've often reflected on my life post LSMSA vs. had I stayed at home. Many things would have been different for me, some positive . . . some negative. But my procrastination (as anyone who knew me then) was evident from day one at LSMSA. It was not a learned behavior. And my freedom to express my procrastinating tendencies would have only been delayed until I started college had I not gone there. I would not have learned "life skills" had I stayed at home with my parents.

I can't imagine many people that would get all that much from their parents at that age. Your average 16 to 18 year old has amazingly little contact with their parents outside of showing up for food or money. Most kids that age want NOTHING to do with their parents, let alone hanging around them to learn life skills. I think I was much more independent and self-sufficent away from my parents because I could not sit on my lazy butt and wait for one of them to do everything for me.

So, in short, I don't buy it. However, this would make one kick butt (yet challenging to design) psychology experiment.

-E said...

i attempted to comment yesterday, but blogger ate my comment, so...

i don't think it is going to boarding school as much as not being at home. but if you have slacker parents, being at home doesn't do you much good either.

i am very certain my mom would have made me be responsible for shopping or meals or something as i got older and wanted the car more often. as it was she had already started making me write out the bills (she would sign them) and the summer between junior and senior year my ability to use the car was contingent on having a job, paid or volunteer. my mom is just like that.
i think i am going to comment further on my own blog, so i will save the rest for over there.