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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Revisiting PAC MAN

Something happened today that reminded me that we are not robots and we all learn differently. Not all of us fit into the box set up by the school system. Several years ago I interviewed a young man that was a prime example of that student. His story became one of 63 others filling my yet to be published book, Spirits of Cibola County. It is my pleasure to share his story with my current readers.

~ Steve M. ~ We all absorb knowledge on a daily basis. Steve M. has a brain like a human PAC MAN, gobbling up information, sorting it out and storing what is needed for future use. He is a very intelligent, basically self-taught young man who never quite fit into the structure called the public school system.

When asked how he got so smart Steve replied, “I think the caffeine in the Mountain Dew I have been drinking since age nine makes my brain work better".

Steve works for 7 Cities Productions as a graphic artist. He takes pride in his work and likes it to be as clean and legible as possible. He also runs his own computer business. In addition to selling software his company sets up web sites for clients.

He eventually wants to expand his business to create user friendly video games. Usually even-tempered and patient, Steve gets upset with machines that do not do what they are designed to do. He believes it is possible to teach a computer to think like we do, to recognize objects in a room and use a voice recognition system.

Starting with first grade, he experienced a colorful history of public school education. This eventually led him to acquire a GED when he turned eighteen. He made every effort to accomplish this task during his junior year, but one person caused him to wait. The superintendent of schools refused to sign his paperwork. He believes it might have been because the school district was receiving money for him to attend classes.

When he began first grade he decided he wanted to be on the honor roll. He worked hard, but it did not happen. He felt he was not recognized. Today Steve believes this could have started a trend. He said, “In second grade my teacher constantly yelled at me and I yelled back.” He spent a lot of time in the principal’s office that year.

About this time he found himself in the middle of a custody battle between his parents. He lived with his father and stepmother for awhile. Due to the remarriages of both parents, Steve has been the oldest, middle, youngest and only child in the family at some time. He said, “Being the middle child is the hardest because you are either too old or too young to do things".

Steve spent much of his childhood moving between California and New Mexico. His care was shifted to his mother when he was in the third grade. He was tested and placed in a mentally gifted program in Fresno, California, where he did very well. Then his mother suddenly decided to move to Grants, NM

Steve and his fourth grade teacher did not get along. She made a cardboard doghouse and put it around his desk. His mother loudly protested by voice and in writing. Steve is not sure if the teacher returned the next year as they moved to a different school district.

His formal education continued to run hot and cold until he earned his GED in 1996. He never understood why the same concepts are taught year after year. He said, “You don’t have to read every book ever written to know how to read.” He wants to know why not how something works, He stated, “Principles are more important to me than mathematical formulas".

In talking to Steve it is quite apparent that he is well-read and has a wide range of interests. One of his more interesting talents is switching from one accent to another, sometimes in mid sentence. From a young age, his mother spoke to him in accents and it sparked his interest. He wants to learn Japanese because there is no conjugation and he likes their culture and history.

Steve admits he spent as little time as possible in class during his high school years. However; there are some teachers who made an impression on him. One subject he enjoyed was science.

Not everyone fits into the public school system and it appears Steve is a prime example of someone who found a better education for himself by himself. He decided to learn his way. He is now taking selected classes at NMSU, not for a degree, but for an education in the subjects that will help him reach his personal goals.

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