Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.
This week, I am pleased to introduce Chelsea Owens. I first met Chelsea when she pulled up at the Carrot Ranch and joined in the flash fiction challenges. I enjoy her wry wit and sense of humour, some of which you’ll experience in her responses to my interview questions. It was also evident in her four creative and original entries in the Carrot Ranch Rodeo fractured fairy tale contest last year. Since I love fractured fairy tales and it was the contest that I judged, the connection was inevitable.
Before we begin the interview, I’ll allow Chelsea to tell you a little of herself:
I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah in the year never-you-mind. My mother felt strongly about living outside of the state, so we lived for a brief time in Ridgecrest, CA. She really ought to have considered a more scenic area to successfully convince my homebody father of out-of-Utah merits, because the remainder of my life (and theirs) has been back in Utah.
I generally grew up around the Salt Lake City metro area and still live there. Erm, here. I now have 4.5 children of my own, all boys. In the time between eating while doing dishes and sleeping while taking children to the bathroom, I run errands and pretend I’m on top of the laundry. Okay, okay: I also write. I maintain two blogs: A personal one and one on motherhood.
I started the former blog in order to have an outlet for my repressed creativity. The latter is to build an audience and connections for the book I will publish Someday.
Although I began blogging rather ignorant of writers, The World, and my own talents and abilities; I have since found a much more welcoming audience than I’ve experienced at any other time in my life. The blogging community is wonderful, and I so appreciate all the wonderful people I’ve met through writing online.
Let’s talk school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?
Whilst living in California, I spent preschool and half of Kindergarten near our hometown of Ridgecrest. The remaining schools have been in Utah.
Did you attend a government, private or independent school?
I remember attending preschool at a woman’s house, but all of my education since has been at public schools.
What is the highest level of education you achieved?
This is a top-secret answer, since I like for people to assume I’m a decorated graduate of the highest degree. In truth, I locked in enough credits to earn my Associate of Arts degree about a year after birthing my second son.
What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?
My work and professions were assorted; their primary function was support of my education. My first job was a secretary for a chiropractor. I also did quality control, data entry, chemicals cataloging, phone surveying, and (most recently) content writing. Since becoming a mother, I have not worked outside the home. I have done some freelance work and help maintain our online dice store.
What is your earliest memory of school?
I remember walking into my second preschool building and what that looked like inside. It’s a shadowy memory of women at tables and shape cards on the tabletop. The building itself was a very small, house-shaped structure on a patch of lawn. Just before moving away from the area, we drove past and my mother told me it had been sold to another business. We told it, “Goodbye.”
What memories do you have of learning to read?
My mother tells me that I taught myself to read at age four, yet I recall watching billboards out of the car windows and not being able to decipher them. To me, it was much like trying to read Cyrillic or Arabic. I’ve never had a problem with reading or comprehension besides that, although I have mispronounced a few words because of not hearing them aloud.
What memories do you have of learning to write?
Unlike other interviewees in this series, I do not remember learning to write. I remember writing cursive. My older sister learned in third grade so, naturally, I had to learn as well. My poor relatives had to get through letters of my seven-year-old efforts, proudly bearing a footnote, “written in cursive.” I also did that to them with my trying to write left-handed. I think I only made my parents suffer through letters written with my toes, though.
What do you remember about math classes?
I love math! I would marry it. I’m not fond of statistics or calculus. I also have an early memory of needing to stay in at recess in fourth grade in order to grasp long division. Really, I would only marry algebra.
What was your favourite subject?
In elementary years I enjoyed recess and P.E. Our school had climbing ropes and I got to monkey up one during our class’ talent program in first grade. Although I did eventually earn The Presidential Fitness Award in ninth grade and then did Track and Field in high school, I resented being graded for my physical activity in 5th-8th grades.
I also liked physics, art, English, algebra, and choir.
What did you like best about school?
My favorite parts of school were when the teachers introduced variety. I liked new challenges and being able to show off academically.
What did you like least about school?
I had a difficult time making friends in school, even up until high school (age 15). I did not have any friends and was generally ostracized by my peers.
I also have never liked pointless schoolwork, known as busywork.
How do you think schools have changed since your school days?
My children currently attend a charter school and those did not exist in my childhood. They have a lot more technology in their classrooms like Smart Boards, iPads, and laptops for taking tests on. Their school is attentive to behavioral issues and bullying. My boys have been able to progress a bit more in terms of academics as well, testing to move up a grade in their math classes.
What do you think schools (in general) do well?
I think the schools around here do a good job at addressing bullying and at answering parental concerns. Some have language immersion programs or opportunities for advanced subjects.
How do you think schools could be improved?
The issue I see as most harmful to the education system in America is that of encouraging everyone to attend college. Like, everyone. This needs to be changed so that people may test and train in technical fields if they wish, especially if they would succeed in that role instead of accrue a helpless amount of student loan debt. Entry level jobs have the requirement of a college degree now instead of a GED or high school diploma. We are simply adding more debt to an already-cynical generation.
In a similar fashion, the public schools are required to accommodate everyone -including those with special needs. This a sore subject and one that I benefit somewhat from, since two of my children receive special education help for behavioral issues. I hold no animosity for children with more severe needs and know that they benefit from being around their more functional peers. Yet I also see most of the school’s resources going toward trying to entertain them all day and I see teachers with increasing numbers of more challenging pupils. Teachers already have a difficult job. I’ve yet to think of an ideal solution and fear it may involve limiting access for those children with needs.
Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Chelsea. It’s refreshing to hear from someone who enjoyed, and excelled at, both maths and PE. It’s been a pleasure to have you visit and get to know a little more about you.
Find out more about Chelsea Owens on her blogs
Connect with her on social media
If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:
Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.