Teachers can be awesome influences- I've know some that even today I remember with love. I've also known some that could shrivel a child's desire to live.
I've been in the school system most of my life... First born child... you know how that goes- I could read and write by the time I was 3- (probably why I need glasses now). So, for my many years, in many schools around the world, the sum of my memories is this...
Guess I had fun in all the preschool classes, don't remember anything, but mom saved the little projects we did and they looked fun...
skipped Kindergarten in England at the request of my teachers, felt rather proud of that... most memorable experiences: teacher taught me how to properly hold a pair of scissors while walking with them, and also, I nearly bit my tongue half-off playing horses on the playground (the nurse was really nice.)
Second grade, I learned to play the recorder.
Third grade, Scotland, my teacher wouldn't allow us to erase our mistakes during writing lessons, no erasers allowed, that was hard for me and I tried to erase it by licking my finger and rubbing (you can imagine), anyway got a ruler across my hands at the front of the classroom. The cafeteria lady was nice.
Third grade AGAIN, Spain, the American school thought I was too small to be in 4th grade, so they held me back- YAY. They put me in a "team classroom" with one half of the room 3rd grade, one half 4th grade, I guess they were trying to make me feel better. My first plagerization, I rewrote a Dr.Seuss book for a writing assignment, teacher never noticed. I lost my interest in achieving, and knew the teacher didn't like me. Almost failed.
Fouth grade: Cute teacher, think I had a bit of a crush. Really liked the boy sitting two desks behind me.
Fifth grade: All the students gave the teacher a hard time, she had a strange name. New boy crush.
Sixth grade: This teacher changed my life. He caught me trying to do something dishonest at the end of 5th grade, and instead of dragging me to the office, he called me on it when he saw me do it, and gave me a chance to put it back. He was also, "mysteriously", my teacher the next year- I think he requested me.
He was the Drama teacher, and he got me involved in the middle school drama class- I loved it. First boyfriend.
Seventh grade, Egypt. Huge campus, lots of different classes, set up rather like a college. Second boyfriend.
Eighth grade, back in Spain, only class I remember is the Architectural engineering class I took. Really neat.
Ninth grade, first time I ever moved in the middle of a year, yuck, in the US, half of my classes didn't have an equivalent in the transfer and so I was plunked into classes at midterm that I had no business being in. Hated it. Harrassed in the halls, guys grabbing my ass between classes, one of the girls ripped several hand-fulls of hair out of my head because her boyfriend liked me, terrorized on the bus, slapped, beaten- culture shock!
Tenth grade, changed schools, by this time I was numb from the whole experience. Began to date a 19 year old, who was into drugs. Mom was terrified, but let it play itself out under her watchful eye- he dumped me after about 6 months. I was devastated. Grades were plummeting, desire to learn was gone. Pulled into the office and lectured about my IQ levels, potential, etc. Fortunately I met my DH toward the end of the year, blind date by a friend who was dating his friend- a bunch of military guys driving down on their week end of leave... he stopped my new smoking habit, and didn't like me to drink.
Many of the girls in my class are sexually active.
Eleventh grade, things were a bit better, my desire to do well in class was returning- think I had something to live for again, the hope of GRADUATION! Pissed off a girl from NewYork who I had been friends with for a short time, she and three others stalked me in the halls, bathrooms, and at lunch times. Took to eating my meals in teachers classrooms. They managed to pull out some of my hair, claw me and slap me around some. I survived. Pulled into the office again, they wanted me to tell off on the girls, but I was "school-smart" by then, so they shifted the questioning to my "alleged" drug use- which I never did, not even pot...!- they didn't believe my denials, I know it is because at this point my entire wardrobe was black, or concert shirts, and I was always going to rock concerts (with my Mom!!
). Almost raped on a ride home with a senior from a party, thank God he stopped before it got bad. Still with DH, engaged at this point- lots of girls envious of my ring...
Twelth grade, trying to get my GPA up a bit, having to retake freshman classes I flunked. Watched the students put the freshman science teacher into nervous breakdown, they were rather proud of themselves. Watched them terrorize the freshman english teacher because they knew they could get her kicked out, and they did. (She was actually an excellent teacher, I learned alot from her-despite the fact that it was freshman english). The only really memorable teacher in highschool was my chemistry teacher, he was an awesome man, I spent many lunches in his classroom just talking with him, he was an "old farm boy" and raised cattle on a professional level- top cattle. Cool guy. He left after that year- glad I knew him. Pulled in to the office, the teacher in my senior class english noticed I wasn't wearing a bra- thanks for looking
: - went home for the day. Pulled in again, for wearing shorts which reached my knees, longer than the cheerleading skirts that sat next to me..., same english teacher- don't think he liked me...
Went with my friend to planned parenthood, she found out she was pregnant and got an abortion. Still with DH, we wrote all the time, then he finally finished his contract with the Army and moved to my area.
Funny thing is I excelled at college, honor roll, Deans list, Who's Who list, Honor societies... the difference was I had control of what classes I took, why, and whether I stayed or dropped. I was actually working toward a career, and eager to learn.
I wish I could have skipped school altogether, just GED'd out and go to college. School was a waste of effort, when I was flunking everyone was on my butt, and when I was aceing it they nit picked about my wardrobe, friends, and life. No win. Social groups were brutal, and much of the school experience is social. I believe that if I had not met my husband at the point I did, I would have quit school at some point because it was a very negative experience. I don't know that I would have gotten involved in drugs, but I definitely had plenty of opportunity, and my town is only a couple thousand in size.
I don't think that there is an easy solution to fixing the school system. I watch my school teacher friends try to navigate the politics to make a difference, and it cost one her certification, and several job opportunities were ruined by carefully placed calls. I've seen them struggle for many years to make a difference, only to end up disillusioned, and quit for a retail management job or flight attendant or such. I watch concerned parents pushed away by schools and teachers, and eventually they stop trying, stop questioning, then the kids go into survival mode and stop telling what is happening, because it can't be fixed anyway.
I like Hydrangea's idea, Learning complexes, with opportunities to learn or apprentice with skilled people who want to teach what they know if you are interested. Lots of resources and hands-on equipment and opportunities, for everyone in the community, not just children. And maybe a Gymboree/Discovery section, so mom/dad can study or help older children while younger children are having a blast experiencing and learning. Once the children learn their basic learning skills like reading, they can skip the baloney and move on to finding their interests, learning skills and deciding what their calling is in life. Then they can move on to college courses which meet their needs, or training programs.
It should not take 12 years to learn the english language, basic math, and basic history. That is all you learn! Unless you count the finer points of american football, or the skills of track, weight- lifting or cheerleading.
One thing I think would be great to keep around at the Learning complexes is the UIL programs: theater, languages, debate, science... those are the most beneficial and inspiring parts of school for many students... they work.
This was a really long post, so if you made it this far I'd love to shake your hand!
The Lord bless you all!