Back in High School, before I developed an attachment to the Jewish Religion, Frank Zappa was my rabbi. I searched his song lyrics, album liner notes and read his book looking for pearls of wisdom by which to live my life. I even moved to Montana for a little while during my college years. One particular quote I repeated more than once was from the liner notes of Zappa’s record Freak Out! It read:
“Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you've got any guts.”
My parents wouldn’t let me drop out of course, so I did the next best thing and tuned out classes when I felt like it, went to the library as often as I could. School wasn’t challenging. I got tracked into non-honors classes and I liked to ask questions. My questions annoyed many teachers, who often could not answer them, but fortunately the school librarian, Mrs. Friedman, understood me. I was the kind of crazy kid that checked out books that had sat for decades unread. That must have endeared me to her.
During my Senior year, I found Economics class especially stultifying. I slept during the endless documentary films. I actually found Economics the subject interesting, and important, just not the class.. I remember the thrill of finding books by John Kenneth Galbraith, Thorstein Veblen and other surprising wise and humorous econ authors in the library. At some point I was probably failing the Econ class, I decided to show off my knowledge gained from my library escapades by asking the teacher questions. When I got an admission that he didn’t even know who these people were or even the first thing about their ideas, I realized that Frank Zappa was 100% right, that real education came from pursuing knowledge via books and libraries.
I found myself adrift in my career after graduating college, trying out numerous jobs, ranging from bicycle messenger, to environmental educator and customer service representative. In spite of my view of school, I decided to go back and earn a teaching credential. Of course I was determined not to become one of “those teachers” who were boring and uncreative. Rather, I was going to be a revolutionary teacher that helped kids to think for themselves. For 5 years I taught science, which was rewarding at times, but I eventually came to the conclusion that the role of classroom teacher wasn’t truly suitable for my personality. I wanted to stay in education, but do something different, something that would make sense for me. After only a little deliberation I decided that a school library was the most logical place.
Now I have the privilege of paying forward what Mrs. Friedman did for me back in the 1980s. I’ve been in the library for 13 years now, and I have no regrets.