[Published September 24th, 2003 v11 i39]

Published in the September 24th, 2003 [v11 i39] issue of The Voice, Unlearning is a wry look at educational goals, and a plan to do it all again, in reverse!

If all goes according to my plan (but really, why should it?) by June of the year of our Lord, 2007, I will have completed my master’s degree in literature. This will be the fulfillment of a promise made to myself many years ago (whilst drunk on Peach Schnapps in an abandoned church on the edge of the Arctic Circle) to once and for all set aside childish dreams of a life as a spokesmodel for the car air-freshener industry. Having achieved this educational milestone I will, of course, have ever so shrewdly positioned myself for a career as a coffee shop barista.

Far from resting on my laurels, though, I will enjoy only the briefest of celebratory dinners (I’m thinking instant noodles and Pabst Blue Ribbon) before swiftly enacting Phase Two of my life plan. This stage will involve the gradual and systematic unlearning of all the academic twaddle that I have previously absorbed. As every quantum physicist knows, the cosmos will one day reach the outer limits of its expansion. At this point, the galaxies will begin to draw back in upon themselves. Possibly time will begin to run in reverse (which means I should probably hang onto that skinny white leather tie at the back of my closet). Always on the look out for a good role model, I plan to conduct myself in a similar fashion on a scholastic level.

First of all, I will forget all of the nonsense I’ll have had to cobble together for my thesis, which will probably revolve around the relationship between Quebecois gothic literature and Bakelite chafing dishes. From there I will move backward through my undergraduate years. I will no longer be aware of techniques or allusions of any kind. I will forget that there is any qualitative difference between Eliot’s “The Wasteland” and the lyrics to a Barry White song. I will once again relish writing that tells instead of shows.

From there, it’s on to high school (be gone, unsolvable algebraic word problems) and elementary school (catch ya later, verb declension; au revoir rudimentary French) before setting my sights on the greatest triumph of all: the total erasure of everything I learned in grades K through One. At this point, if everything gels, I will once again be able to colour way, way outside the lines. I will be ignited by wonder at the sight of satellites and sand dollars. Like my daughter, I will be able to converse with Dalmatians and dragons. Ultimately I will be able to run naked around the kitchen shaking my booty and singing loud, off-key versions of “Coconut” without the slightest hint of embarrassment.

Okay, with that part I’m already there.