December 11, 2000
This week, we are featuring a story written by Marlene, from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Marlene is a member of the Literacy Partners of Manitoba Speakers' Bureau. She was recently taking classes at Journeys Adult Education Centre in Winnipeg.
I grew up in St. Boniface, a French speaking community. Before I went to school, French was the language mostly spoken at home. When I started school, I spoke more English, and eventually lost a lot of my French. I remember the very first day of school being so scary and a negative experience for me. I was a very shy little girl and had a hard time making friends. I didnt like my teacher because she was very strict. It also made it very difficult for me because I went to six different schools. I managed to stay in school until grade ten.
Changing schools so often really made things hard for me because I always felt that I had to try to fit in. I approached that in a negative way by always trying to be the class clown and getting into trouble. I got attention, but it was negative. I found myself in the office a lot.
I remember being sent to a private Catholic School in hopes that I would straighten out, I guess. But that didnt help matters at all; in fact, it made things worse, especially for my self-esteem. For example, spelling was and still is one of my worst subjects and I get very embarrassed about spelling mistakes because of my awful experience with my teacher at school. She would give us a spelling test and however many mistakes we had we would have to go up in front of the class and put our hand out. She would strike us for each mistake, right in front of everyone. It was very humiliating.
I became stubborn and resentful and didn't care about school at all. I thought they were all mean and heartless. I developed a really bad attitude towards learning and teachers. I really couldn't care less. I didn't try to learn. I was more concerned about having fun with my friends which got me into trouble most of the time. If I had trouble in certain subjects I wouldn't ask for help because of fear of embarrassment or humiliation in front of others.
It was extremely hard to get support at home because my mother had a grade six and my father had a grade three education. I have three boys of my own and they are now in school. They also need my help so history doesn't repeat itself. It was only when I became a single mother that I started to really take my education seriously. In the past I would rely on my ex-husband because he had his education, so I wasn't worried about it as much.
There have still been times when my son would ask for my help. I would manage to help him. It would remind me that I really needed to work on my own education. I didn't want to be embarrassed in front of my own child so I tried to go back to school. I really didn't like it, but I knew I had to do something about it because I was the only one at home now, and my children need my help with their homework. I want to get my G.E.D. so that I can take a course in order to have a better paying job that would suit my familys needs.
So now through all my struggles and negative experiences I have become a stronger person. I have a positive outlook on education now. I know that I can do it if I really put my mind to it. I have accomplished and successfully graduated from Cosmetology School. I have taken a Health Care Aide course and successfully completed it receiving my Health Care Aide certificate. At the moment I am going to Journeys Adult Education Rehabilitation Assistant course. I will have achieved my goal when I finally start to work as a Rehabilitation Assistant full time. I have learned from my journey that you never give up, no matter how negative your experience. Only you can change that. Find something that works. You can do it!
[This story was taken from Write On!, October 2000, published by Literacy Partners of Manitoba.]