The $5 Challenge

Photo by Joseph Greve from Unsplash

The $5 Challenge

I heard the stories as a child…

of Dad skipping school and running wild,

breaking the ice to go for a swim.

Skunky smell emanating from him…

sent home or banished to the hall.

Given his grades for playing basketball.

Joined the Navy by lying about his age,

used the GI Bill to go to college.

Photo by NeONBRAND from Unsplash

Dad wasn’t much help with study skills,

but he gave me an incentive of a five-dollar bill

for earning straight “A”s…a perfect report card.

In my sophomore year, I tried really hard!

Photo by Hello, I’m Nik from Unsplash

By dropping my hated typing class,

I thought I could get all “A”s at last!

But the honor roll with a “B” or two

just seemed to be the best I could do.

The quest became a pain in the neck,

and to this day, I still hunt and peck.

The next two years, until graduation,

I focused on directing my own education.

I abandoned chasing grades…No “busy work” for me!

There were books to be read as far as the eye could see!

Photo by Jonathan Simcoe from Unsplash

After that, I took art class seriously

and sketched my teacher in trigonometry.

Like my father before me, banished to the hall,

I read a book and didn’t mind at all.

I was multitasking in trigonometry…

Figuring that out, my teacher tolerated me!

Moved to the back of the room, not banished to the hall…

I sat drawing, learning, and having a ball!

Mt. Rushmore, Photo by Brandon Mowinkel from Unsplash

My history teacher was a boring jock!

Outline the chapter?…I think he was in shock

that my outline was heads and subheads. My grades slid,

but I got an education despite the rude things I did.

No “busy work,” copying sentences in grammar!

Zeros hurt my grades, but it didn’t matter…

I scored high on tests, so my grades were okay.

No offense, teachers…Just trying to find my way!

Photo by Anna1991anna from Unsplash

Married at eighteen, then job and family.

Night school part-time at twenty-six…I was ready!

At the beginning of each quarter, I always asked,

“What do I have to do to get an ‘A’ in your class?”

After all the drama, I finally had my four-point-oh…

Dad’s offer had expired…five dollars was a “no show!”

At forty, I graduated and consecutively

started teaching and earning my masters degree.

Elementary Classroom, Photo courtesy of CDC from Unsplash

Like my father before me, I say, “Don’t do as I do!”

Educating yourself is essential, but grades are important too!

Dad went back to school after I was grown.

He earned five doctorates…Who could have known?


CopyrightΒ© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


Word to the Wise

If you are a student, please don’t do as I did! Or as my father did, either! Find the balance between earning good grades and educating yourself about the things you want to know. Take it from someone who learned the hard way…Grades and following your interests are both important!

Remember to be kind to your teachers. Karma may get you if you are rude to them! As a teacher in inner city schools, I got back a little bit of what was coming to me. So, if you are ever tempted to give your teachers a hard time, remember my advice, and don’t go there!

59 Comments

    1. Thank you, Offshorewriter, for your kind comment. ❀ I don't have a lot of regrets in my life, but I wish I had been more concerned about making good grades. I also have more empathy for my teachers after being in their shoes. And of course, life would be easier if I were a better typist. πŸ™‚ Take care, Cheryl

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  1. This is a beautiful life journey. I don’t know but schools for this are very much responsible. If a teacher teaches well and understands each student. The student will itself do wonders. Books are amended according to what the government wants the children to know.

    Liked by 4 people

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    1. Kritika, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.I am glad you liked the poem. There are so many factors in school success. There were no AP classes when I was in high school. That might have helped. A lot also has to do with a student’s family, It is said that history is lies agreed upon. Unfortunately, in this country, that has been true.

      When you were in high school, what would happen if a student refused to do their homework or read library books in class? I suppose the government controlling what is taught happens everywhere. All the best, Kritika! ❀ Cheryl

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. Factors are many. I agree.
        The time of my high school, students had no respect for teachers. If they had not done the homework, no problem. Students ruled the class. πŸ˜€ But they were all competent and had good grades.

        My pleasure always Cheryl πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Ingrid for your kind response! I am happy you enjoyed the poem and appreciate your taking time to read and comment. ❀ Yes, we need to find that balance between formal education and following our interests. πŸ™‚

      Have a great week ahead! Cheryl

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  2. This makes me think, Cheryl, of the motto of the abbay of Theleme ( Gargantua by Rabelais , French writer of the Renaissance XVI th century )..The motto was ” Fais ce que tu voudras ” = “Do what you want to ” πŸ™‚
    That pedagogy has been used in UK, Canada and France( Interest pedagogy) . I do not much about the US .
    Love ❀
    Michel

    Liked by 4 people

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      1. Michel, thank you for sharing this ancient motto. Its wisdom is undeniable! I am so glad my poem reminds you of this! Your support means a lot. ❀

        The "American Dream" is the belief that in a "land of opportunity," people with nothing but their dreams can accomplish great things through their own efforts. Also known as "pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps." Too often this has been interpreted in economic terms, but many Americans have risen from humble beginnings to make great contributions with their lives. A motto might be stated, "Follow your dreams," which is very similar to, "Do what you like."

        The US, of course, was founded on the principles of the French Enlightenment, and we owe a great debt to France for supporting our fight for independence. ❀ Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite, Michel! πŸ™‚

        Stay well and be happy! Love, ❀ Cheryl

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  3. This is such a wow post Cheryl. Loved it.

    Our father was big on education. All the 6 siblings went to public, Hindi medium free schools. One of us is a PhD from London, two retired as principals of colleges, I became a decently successful engineer and my younger brother a Masters in economics. One sibling was bottom of the class and did her masters after marriage. Two were average and three of us were toppers 😊

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    1. Ashok, what an astounding accomplishment to raise six such outstanding and successful children! What a powerful vision of the value of education your father must have had, and what a fine mentor he must have been! I am sure your parents were very proud of all of you. ❀

      Thank you for reading and commenting. It means a lot to me that you like my poem. ❀ I appreciate you for sharing the story of your family's acheivements. It is very inspiring! πŸ™‚

      All the best! Cheryl

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply

      1. Thank you so much Cheryl for your kind words for our parents and my siblings. We are truly blessed to have had our parents.

        I do enjoy reading your posts and interacting with you πŸ’–πŸ€—

        Stay safe. Stay blessed

        Liked by 1 person

  4. True. I think that there should be a fine balance between self-teaching and school education. School has taught me valuable things like how to study and pass exams so that I can do the subjects that I love in the future, but things like books have taught me almost everything that I know about the world, other people’s lives and what it’s like to live in it. Thank you so much for communicating this through your lovely words!

    Liked by 3 people

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  5. This is great! What a journey. When I was in college I had no idea what to study so just did it to get a piece of paper. My approach would be so different today.
    Way to go Dad! It’s cool that he went back.

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply

    1. Beck, thatk you for sharing your perspectives. ❀ I am glad you enjoyed the poem and appreciate your kind comments.

      It is unfortunate that you went through college with the primary goal of getting a piece of paper. You are now guiding your children as they make choices about education and future careers and are prepared to help them avoid that pitfall.

      My late husband hated law school (Harvard), but said it opened a lot of doors for him throughout his life.That "piece of paper" has value, and what you learned in college was probably a good foundation. The real learning, I am sure you will agree, takes place throughout life and is self-directed. You share glimpses, through your excellent writing, of a satisfying and productive life. πŸ™‚

      All the best! Cheryl

      Liked by 2 people

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      1. I agreeβ€” Real learning is pretty much self directed.
        And yes I hope to direct my kids to the best of my ability.
        And thank you so much for your kind compliment! ❀️ I appreciate you! πŸ€—

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely poem threading your classroom experience Cheyrl. Life has served you well Cheryl cultivating the things you love even if that darn typing class got in your way. My husband was the teacher’s pet in high school and took typing twice so he could help me get through it. I can imagaine you were a great teacher and you have certainly exceeded your education in history, inteligence and love as is evident by your poetry.. Kuddos to your Dad and the 5.00. Loved reading this! ❀️ Cindy

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Cindy, thank you for your kind and generous comments. ❀ I appreciate your sharing your thoughts and I am happy you enjoyed the poem.

      Great story about your husband helping you through typing class! πŸ™‚ I enjoyed teaching and loved learning with and from my students. There are always challenges in any job, but teaching was a fulfilling career for me. After watching your video, I know you are a very talented and caring coach and teacher for your clients. ❀

      Stay safe and be happy! Cheryl

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

      1. You are so welcome Cherly, it is always my pleasure to hear your well crafted poems. Gosh I hope you are well!!! I read on Kritika’s post about your health experience lately and I’m sending you lots of healing light and energy!!!!
        He definitely saved me and who knew, It would come in handy someday like now.. Lol.
        I can imagaine you were an amazing teacher. No surprise there. I thought of you this morning when I posted the teacher post you will love. Awww, thanks for that nice awcknowledment … as I know as a teacher your fine critiquing skills. 😘.
        You take care too and heal fast. ❀️ Cindy

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Your Gratitude to your father is touching, Diana. ❀ My sister and I talk frequently about all the efforts our parents made as we were growing up. We probably did not thank them enough. I am sure your father only wanted the best for you and that your happiness is all the reward he ever hoped for! Thank you so much for reading and commenting. πŸ™‚ Have a great week! Cheryl

      Liked by 2 people

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  7. OMG Cheryl, you were quite rebellious weren’t you πŸ™‚? I frequently drew sketches of my teachers, sometimes on blackboards too, many times got rewarded with a pencil pressed between two fingers wherever I was caught, or some sadistic pinching with my art teachers very long thumbnail πŸ˜€
    Grades are important, even more so now-a-days. But that’s possibly because education might have degraded it’s standards. Studying for grades cannot impart the same clean knowledge as passionate self study can – I think. You lived your life, and reached your goal too. Pity the $5 offer had retired by then πŸ™‚

    Liked by 5 people

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    1. Deb, your account of your school experiences made me laugh out loud! It sounds like we might have some things in common…You were certainly a rebel as well! No teachers nowadays are permitted to punish students as you describe! I assume you would be furious if a teacher treated your daughter that way! Grade inflation has been a problem here too. You are right about my father…he weaseled out of paying the $5! πŸ™‚

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Glad you liked the poem! Your support means a lot to me! ❀

      Have a great week! Cheryl

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  8. delightful to hear your life story Cheryl, our fathers were of the same era!

    Nobody ever asked what my grades were … they count for zero in the end! It was only which bit of paper I had, nothing to do with how I got there πŸ™‚

    So I agree – students need to respect their teachers, cause no harm or disruption but pray their teachers allow for ‘individuality’ like your’s did!

    Liked by 3 people

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    1. So glad you enjoyed the poem and found it relatable, Kate! ❀ Your experience with your father is familiar. I know my father wanted the best for his children, but didn't have the expertise to guide us to succeed in school.

      I know just a bit about you. I know you traveled, lived abroad, and worked in hospice. And now you live on the water, take great photos, and write beautiful poetry. We all found our way, didn't we? Life is not always easy, but it is interesting! πŸ™‚ All the best! Cheryl

      Liked by 1 person

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  9. That was a beautiful poem! Truth be told, I needed to hear this. My grades are okay but I’ve been involved in more art than I should at this point. So happy to see you and your dad finally achieved a balance of both! Thank you for the wake up call!❀️

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. D, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I am glad you enjoyed the poem. ❀ Keeping your life in balance is an ongoing challenge, one I still struggle with every day. I think it helps to have priorities. Things like your health, family responsibilities, and education should not be neglected. It is also important to explore your interests and develop your talents. You may want to take an art class if it is offered. There are also many helpful art tutorials on YouTube. All the best! ❀ Cheryl

      Liked by 1 person

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    1. Punam, thank you for your kind remarks and valuable comments! Your taking time to read and respond is deeply appreciated. ❀ I hope that I have conveyed the message that education is important! It may be too much to expect that someone will learn from my mistakes, although I think learning from the mistakes of others can spare us from many regrets. πŸ™‚ Another thing I hope readers will take away is that learning is lifelong.

      All the best! ❀ Cheryl

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      Reply

    1. Thank you, Subbashini, for your wisdom and kindness. Your taking time to read and comment is very much appreciated. ❀ I hope others will learn from my mistakes. I was very "hard-headed" when I was young. Determination is a good thing, but stubbornness causes us to act contrary to our best interests. πŸ™‚

      Stay safe and be happy! Cheryl

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    1. Thank you, Saba, for your kind and generous comment. ❀ It is wonderful to hear that you think the poem shared words of wisdom. I hope others will learn from my mistakes and avoid the consequences of not doing their best in school I also hope that people will realize that you are never too old to learn. πŸ™‚

      All the best! ❀ Cheryl

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    1. Eliza, Thank you for your kind comment. ❀ My father, a minister, earned his 5 doctorates by correspondence. I think it was a sort of hobby for him in his later years. He never did learn to spell very well, but his wife was a former secretary who proofread his papers. Today, he could have used spell check! πŸ™‚

      I started college when my oldest daughter was six. My husband babysat one or two nights a week so I could attend night school, and I stayed home while he took photography classes or played chess. That is a very slow way to earn a degree! πŸ™‚

      After my daughter grew up, I finished my degree by going to school full-time and working full-time for a couple of years. I graduated 14 years after I started. Then I finished my masters while teaching full-time. Later, my two younger children were adopted. My children's ages are 51, 30, and 28.

      I paid a LOT of dues to become a teacher. That is why I wrote this post…to persuade students to take their education seriously and make good decisions. Also, I wanted to let older people know it is never to late to learn.

      I hope you are doing well. ❀ Cheryl

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      Reply

    1. Thank you so much for your kind response, Samreen! I really appreciate your taking the time to read and comment! ❀ I am hoping to prevent someone else from repeating my mistakes. πŸ™‚ Education is important, but it is also true that all the experiences of life teach us something, and learning should continue as long as we live.

      Have a great week! Cheryl

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. My pleasure always Cheryl! ❀️ Indeed we should keep learning good things and learn from our and others experiences as well!! Education is truly important and as you said are grades, mostly I think in today’s competitive world. 3 out of my 4 siblings were always among the toppers and we grabbed our teachers attention the most while my mother was always worried about my youngest sister as she never cared about grades but fortunately now she is pursuing PhD, she learned 😊
        You too have great week ahead Cheryl🌷❀️

        Liked by 1 person

  10. There is a nice quote: “Learning is like rowing against the current. As soon as you stop, you drift back.”
    I think, it’s never too early and never too late to learn something new.
    Have a great week, Cheryl!
    Rosie from Germany 😊🌷

    Liked by 1 person

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