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Disclaimer: I'm taking a personal development course

J. Harry Caufield

Some comments on an IEP from the 3rd grade.

The internet is a strange place in that I've grown so used to it actively promoting anonymity even when recent trends on social networks and the like champion having a public face for the meatspace self. It's nice to be able to present content devoid of personal context or at least pretend that my online self is somehow independent of the remainder of my personality. That may just be escapism.

What I really want to talk about is the 3rd grade.

I'm not in elementary school anymore so my 3rd grade identity sits in the same shadow as all other personal histories, fictional or otherwise. That's my Individualized Educational Program up there. It says I was on or above grade level but I can't take that too personally: a latent sense of over-achievement tells me that it really should say "...may be far above grade level as our current metrics are unprepared for his intellectual might" while the pragmatic cynicism pipes suggests, "that's just a boilerplate response and you should focus on the details". This is the usual sensation I get when reading over old school materials. I wasn't really an overachiever in school at all but looking back causes me to feel like I really should have tried harder. That would have been difficult, of course, as I'm still not really sure what the behavior of trying hard looks like.

I still pride myself in my ability to pick apart the complexity inherent to cause and effect. How about all those other traits? Maybe a checklist would help:

  • Generates many ideas/solutions to problems: Maybe too many?
  • Able to apply critical thinking skills appropriately: Not entirely sure what this means. When is critical thinking inappropriate?
  • Seems to have a flair for the dramatics: Yeah, that one shows up on every IEP after 2nd grade or so. Yeah, it's still true. No, I can't tell if that's a backhanded compliment.
  • Needs a stimulating environment: Still true. I can't really tolerate the idea of thinking about the same few issues every day. Pure office jobs are rather hellish.
  • Needs to work on strengthening group skills: This has improved substantially! I can't believe that any school kid is actually skilled at working in a group. Doing theatre in college probably helped more than any class project ever did, even in high school.
  • Frustration, failure to understand, etc.: This may still be the case, but my daily routine is now so overstuffed with things I don't understand that I have to take a more Zen-like, let-the-river-flow-around-me type of approach.
Overall: Not the same person I was in the 3rd grade. It's for the best.