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The Boston Globe

Opinion

CARLO ROTELLA

First day of 41st grade

As academic years pass, the students keep getting better — or do they?

When I graduated from college, I found a job in Manhattan and a basement apartment in Brooklyn, and I was sure I was done with school forever. But what I did at that job, and at the next one, was write research papers, a skill I had been honing in school since the first grade. And during those postcollegiate years, every September I felt a powerful urge to go to a room smelling of dusty wood and figure out something complicated in the company of similarly motivated others while rain beat against the windows. With the help of New York’s old-fashioned taverns, which resemble lecture halls or libraries if you squint a little, I held the urge at bay for a couple of years.

Finally, I conducted a thought experiment. What would I do with my life if I miraculously had plenty of money and could just do whatever I wanted? The answer was: write, read, and be around people who value truth, beauty, and a well-crafted argument. Since I did have to make a living, I set about getting into the profession that best answered that description. So, back to school — and back to school every September since then.

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