My father was a hard-ass, a Southern version of the Red Forman-type made popular in That 70’s Show. I grew up, then, in a “no excuses” environment rooted in the 1950s work ethic my father personified. *
Mine was a working-class background: My paternal grandfather (for whom I was named) ran the small-town gas station where I grew up, and my maternal grandfather worked in the yarn mills in the hills of North Carolina.
Way before the “no excuses” ideology consumed the education reform movement of the 21st century, “no excuses” ruled my childhood and teen years. My behavior at home and school? No excuses. My academic achievement? No excuses.
Two important realizations, however, stem from that childhood and young adulthood of mine.
First, most of my academic, scholarly, and personal success occurred in spite of (not because of) that “no excuses” upbringing.
And second, in retrospect I recognize…
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