When I was in 10th grade, Emily and I started going to the bookstore during our free periods. We’d get coffee, and then just wander, reading title after title, picking up anything that interested us. We often read whole books in a single sitting, crouched on the carpet at the back of one aisle or another, sometimes reading silently to ourselves and sometimes out loud to one another. We read novels, collections of poetry, nonfiction volumes about science and history and feminism. This was fun — it was great, unadulterated fun, and the things we learned are immeasurable. I would learn more in ninety minutes, exploring an interesting topic with my best friend, than I did in an entire semester in any of my classes. Overall I’m sure I’ve learned significantly more reading with Emily — in bookstores, bedrooms and the blogosphere — than I did in my three* years of high school combined.
Being forced back into class every day after this was incredibly demoralizing. I’ve always been an A student and liked school more than most, but this exposed the great hypocrisy of what I was being forced to do. I was learning, passionately — and it felt nothing like sitting in those classrooms.