Wow! Thank you everybody who took the time to write the thoughtful comments to yesterday’s post! I really enjoyed reading them.
A question in yesterday’s mailbag is somewhat tied in to this discussion. Kim writes: i am 17 and just recently read lauries book catalyst in my english class. AFter reading this book a few classmates and myself were having a debate. i think that mikey is not terris kid but they believe that he is, i would love it if you could write me back and let me know.
I do not have a copy of CATALYST handy, so I can’t give out the exact page number (I really do need to finish unpacking the boxes of books). But yes, Mikey is definitely Teri’s son. After the Really Awful Thing happens (I don’t want to give that away for those who have not yet read the book), Teri calls him her son. Later, Kate talks to her father who says he suspects that the Mikey was the product of an assault on Teri by her own father, a criminal disgusting pig of a man who died in jail.
I chose not to make a huge deal out of these points because this is not a book about Teri. It’s a book about Kate. Teri is the catalyst who helps Kate see the changes she need to make in her life. Kate – a high achieving academically-driven kid – develops empathy for Teri, who comes from a very challenging background, and finds out there is more to life than SAT scores.
How does this tie in to yesterday’s discussion? Directly. If you scroll down the yesterday’s comments to a heartfelt post by bananared17 you will see the reason I wrote CATALYST. I firmly believe in the need for high schools to help teens learn as much as they possibly can to prepare them for what lies ahead. But our culture (yes, a generalization, I know) has deluded itself into believing that the only road to success leads through a top tier college, preferably Ivy League. Now don’t get me wrong, top tier colleges are very nice, but not everyone can or should strive for them.
I think we need to redefine what the point of high school is. Is it to get kids into college? If so, it is almost working. 66% of high school graduates go to college now. Is it to prepare kids to succeed in college? Then we are failing miserably because the national college drop-out rate is 50%. And if we tell teens that “success=college degree” then what does that mean for those people who don’t have one?
I think success means being a kind, moral, hard-working person who in a small way, leaves the world a better place. For some people, that will require a college degree. For others, it won’t. Your journey is to find out how to live your life by your own code, in a way that will bring you joy and satisfaction. You do NOT need to know what you’re going to do with your life when you are 18 years old. Hardly anybody does. Be nice, be healthy, try a bunch of different things and you’ll figure it out.
OK, long post and way too much philosophy on only one cup of coffee. It is snowing again (yay!) and I have to go make up new scenes for my revised WIP.
added later WAIT! WAIT! Read this marvelous poem that reflects on all this stuff we’ve been talking about! (It is the poem by Thomas Lux selected for December 6.)