471. The Working Environment

After school, as a child and as an adolescent, I always came home to a place where I had my own room. That’s where I did or didn’t do my homework. I had a big desk that had a large map of the world on top, covered by a large sheet of glass. Sometimes I’d sit up in my room and read books, sometimes study the map and daydream about the world,
and sometimes even do my homework.
Now that I’m thinking about it, I realize that I was quite privileged. That was quite a room. It was the only room in the house with an air conditioner (that was because of my severe allergies, but I’ll bet that on really hot days, my siblings wished they had allergies), and the view
out my windows was beautiful – woods, our pond, our corral. It was my place, and I decorated it the way I wanted to. I had all the privacy I wanted. My parents had four children, and each of us had a separate room. We were always told that we werent rich – that we only lived as if we were rich – but I know, now, that poor people couldn’t have had what we had. Very few parents admit to themselves or their children that they’re rich, and besides, everything’s relative.
Some children who have their own rooms nevertheless do their homework at the kitchen table, or in the living room, in front of the television. Some do so because their rooms are too messy to work in, and some because they like to do their homework with people around, and/or with the TV on. Some like the
context that gives them, and some like the distractions that can later serve as alibis for not doing the work. Privacy is not as important to some people as it was and is to me.
My parents considered education very important. Neither had a college degree, but they wanted their children to go to college. There was a huge dictionary near the kitchen table, and there were many times, during discussions over dinner, when we consulted that dictionary. I thought, at the time, that I learned because I wanted to – because I was a learning kind of guy – but I know, now, that the environment my parents
carefully provided sure helped.
Children don’t have to have what I had. Some don’t want to. Some seem to do their homework better while wearing radios on their heads, watching television, or hanging out with other people. I don’t identify with that; I’m easily distracted by sights and sounds other than what I’m trying
to concentrate on, and I always have been. But I’m pretty sure that there are people who get distracted by silence and privacy. Different strokes for different folks.

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