Sunday, March 25, 2007

finding a voice

Because of my grandfather's gift of story-telling, I always wanted to be a story-teller myself. I wanted to spin tales, to captivate people with my stories, to enchant. Trouble with that: I couldn't seem to come up with a story to tell.

Of course I was all of 5 years old. Let's face facts, at 5 you don't have many stories to tell... and the ones you have: BORING. Except perhaps to your teddy bear.

As I got older I still felt I had no stories to tell. There was just nothing with a beginning, middle and end. I could talk. Yes, lord I can ramble. But I had nothing concise, nothing worth telling, nothing enchanting.

In school I was exceptionally quiet.

The teacher's comments sections of my report cards were a steady stream of the same sentence, year after year: Joy is a very intelligent girl - but she needs to participate in class more.

*sigh*

Every single report card.

Want to talk boring?

The thing that made me nuts with that comment was my continued response: WHY?

Why do I "NEED" to participate in class more?

You know how it goes, the teacher asks people to answer a question. Okay, you raise your hand and spit out the answer. Terrific. Then the teacher finishes the lesson and asks if there are any questions. The hands go up and the most inane questions come out.

This was my issue. Yes, I know the answer. Yes, I followed the lesson. Yes, I GET IT. No, I have no questions because I already GOT IT. Capese? Thank you.

I could see no point in proving I knew the answer to the whole class.
I could see no point in pretending to have questions when I did not.
So my hand was not going up.

If the teacher pressed the point, tried to get me to 'participate' by calling on me directly I would give the correct answer and that was that.

They knew damned well I understood what they were teaching. I got it the first time people can we move on now? (I was dead bored in school until I got to college). But still they persisted in writing that freaking annoying comment on every single report card. Not one teacher let it go.

God they do love you to fit into a box, don't they?

One of the main reasons I wanted to become an actress was because I felt I wanted so desperately to tell stories, but still lacked the gift of actually telling my own. As an actor you tell someone else's story. You get to delve into the motivations of a character, you create a living person on a stage, you become part of the story. That I could do, and it was great. I felt I found a way to be a story-teller. I loved it, still do. But now I feel I want more. Now I want to be the creator of the story, not simply a conduit for someone else's voice.

I feel I'm finally finding my own stories. My own voice.

It's taken a while to get here, but I'm glad I stuck it out. Nice view from here. Maybe later I'll 'participate' by telling you a little story.... I'm sure my teachers would be thrilled.

5 comments:

Gary said...

School should not be one way communication with the all knowing teacher feeding information to students. It seems that you had the "teacher as executive" rather than the "teacher as facilitator/artist". You would have blossomed under a different approach, one that allowed you to explore your own passions. We evolve and grow in spite of these experiences and I am happy to see you are finding your voice.

Joy said...

ahhhh that explains why I dislike 'executives'!!!

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

I'm so glad that you finally found your voice. I'm waiting on mine.

d. chedwick bryant said...

you were just waiting for the right time to blossom

d. chedwick bryant said...

I don't remember much of grade school-- it was a blur of many schools. But I vividly recall first grade because by first grade was used to reading on my own. I read the first grade reader on the first day and wondered if I could have a better book. (The teacher(as executive) was furious and wanted me to slow down, go backwards, and get with the program, which I tried to do, to please her. )
At least one school did me a favor and let me skip the third grade. It wasn't until grade 6 though, that a teacher decided I was not "right" for any reading group and just let me read and do my science work independently. Not only was I in book heaven, but I felt understood for the first time.