I’m about 99% positive that most of the progress I’ve made in my life is due to my teachers. Not the good ones (there were a few, but not enough), but the bad ones. The awful, lazy teachers who did nothing but make me want to have the revenge of living well. I can think of two math instructors I had who worked hard and tried to communicate, and I did great in those classes .. but the rest mostly walked through the same lesson plans they used for decades.
Why am I studying math at home while my wife and newborn sleep? Because I had teachers who cared so little for instruction and doing anything beyond going through the motions that they left me with almost no interest and a lot of fear of my own ignorance. Revenge for me was failing math in high school, but getting a minor in applied physics. That minor was hard won, and I had some really lousy teachers in college as well, but I had enough anger to get me through.
Luckily, the teachers were bad, but not bad enough to kill my interest, or maybe they just made me mad enough to keep going. Even as I kid I knew what they were doing was wrong and they were cheating their students. I think alot about where I came from and how much work it took to get out. I’m not very smart, but I have enough anger to make me work hard, and that seems to be what was needed to progress, move forward and escape. I’m not successful, but I’m further along they I should be. I gave up a lot of sleep to end up with a decent job and I have great parents who supported me. But I don’t think anything motivated me more than frustration.
Along the way there was a lot of “I’ll show you”, but that’s tempered now. I did do it and now I have to take advantage of what I have. I can look back and let myself off the hook .. but just a little. Just enough to appreciate what I have, but not to get slow and lazy. I feel lucky, but it’s been an earned luck.
I like to read this McNally writeup on a regular basis. T.C. Boyle says it best, “Bury your enemies, and bury ‘em deep”.