Why I didn't like pub. school - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 23 Old 06-10-2002, 02:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I dropped out of public school in 10th grade. I wish I could have done so sooner. For all the moms who are using public school, I just wanted to say that from a student's point of view, it was extremely confining to the mind and the spirit. Not only did it take away time from things I was interested in learning about, but it takes away your dignity. For example, a teacher having the power to not "let" me go to the bathroom or eat.

My brother, when you ask him if he's read a new book that's out, goes "I don't have to read that, it's not school." (He's in middle school)

I guess, if you have to use public school, be careful and flexible. And teach your kids that nobody should be able to take away basic rights like going to the bathroom, resting, eating, etc.

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#2 of 23 Old 06-10-2002, 05:35 PM
 
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I dropped out, too, for various reasons. The bathroom thing always got me....in middle and high school classes were short enough that it wasn't an issue, but in grade school it was so embarassing to have to ask to go to the bathroom. And I've always had a small bladder! I could rant about public schools forever, but I don't have much time now. For the record, I do think there are some great schools and teachers out there, but they're difficult to find.

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#3 of 23 Old 06-10-2002, 05:52 PM
 
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I have to say that public schools did me no justice, either. I know I had some good teachers and probably some good experiences but for the most part I have bad memories.

My oldest went to public school for a while. The other day when we were taking a walk he just started talking about how he felt crazy being surrounded by walls all day. I think that sums things up nicely.

I know public school works for some people and others don't have a choice. I went to school (college) to be a teacher. My brother is a teacher as is my SIL. My father was a teacher, principal and superintendent for over 30 years. All support alternatives to public schooling.

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#4 of 23 Old 06-10-2002, 10:41 PM
 
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Obviously, not all public schools are the same and two students going to the same school may have vastly different experiences. I went to a Catholic school through jr. high, and a public high school. I loved my public high school experience, but maybe that's because there weren't nuns around to beat me.

I found it intellectually challenging, I had many great teachers, had a variety of class offerings. I got a wonderful education that served as a solid foundation for college. I also learned lots of lessons about getting along with different types of people. Was every minute blissful? No, but I've never been in a life situation that was.

Yes, there were rules that sometime seemed a little arbitrary, but I've had plenty of jobs with the same.
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#5 of 23 Old 06-10-2002, 10:53 PM
 
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I wouldn't say it's the rules that bothered me so much as it just being so limiting. I mean, you simply can't get the same education when you're within the same four walls day in and day out for all of those years as you can when the world is your classroom. Again, this is just my expereince and my opinion but I feel very strongly about it. I am also not an advocate of Catholic or other "private" schools. Although it's not b/c I think that the nuns beat people.

I think you meet lots of people in a school but then it's the same people all of the time. Plus, it's generally people in your same general age group. My kids have learned how to relate to children and adults alike. They have learned to relate to kids that are five years younger than they are or twenty years older. It really is an amazing experience for them. One that you can't get, in my opinion, by being in a school.

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#6 of 23 Old 06-12-2002, 12:14 AM
 
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I really loved my public school all the way from kindergarten to high school graduation and beyond to university. I lived in a pretty conservative, rural, traditional environment and the ideas made available at our school really opened my world. Some of the teachers were pretty young and came from different backgrounds than we were living in, and they made a huge difference to the way I grew and the attitudes I have developed.

Of course, I like calculus, physics, and chemistry, so perhaps I was just the kid they designed the curriculum for!

That being said, I don't think that public school is perfect. It is just one more nice thing for some kids... a rich home life, a loving extended family, strong spiritual life... every child needs a lot of different types of experiences. The important thing is for parents to listen and decide if it is working for the child.
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#7 of 23 Old 06-12-2002, 03:12 AM
 
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Bestjob said: "The important thing is for parents to listen and decide if it is working for the child."

You are so right! My sister and I went to the same secondary school. If you heard us both talking, you'd think we were talking of totally different places. She loved it, I hated it. But because it was the 'best' school in the area and difficult to get into, I was left there in misery for several years.

However, I am determined not to put my own prejudices from my personal experience onto my children - maybe they will enjoy the type of academic environment that I hated - my sister certainly thrived on it. I plan to wait and see how my children respond to different environments and aim to find schools that are right for them.

I do think that many people internalise their own childhood experiences and allow them to colour their judgement for their own children. I once tutored a child who wanted to sit an exam to get into a local school. I worked with her for a year, and she was really excited and confident about sitting the exam. At the last minute, her mother persuaded her to withdraw. For fun, the child did the exam paper at home, and passed with flying colours. But she went to the other school, not because that was necessarily the right thing for her, but because her mother had gone to a similar school and didnt want her daughter to have the same experience. She also didnt want her to risk 'failure' - so gave her the message that she wasn't even up to the challenge. What she didnt understand was that her daughter had a great attitude and if she had 'failed' wouldn't have perceived it as failure. She was denied a chance to do what she wanted to do becasue of her mother's ghosts from the past.

I don't want to do that to my children, so am trying to keep an open mind and do what suits each of them individually when the time comes.
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#8 of 23 Old 06-12-2002, 02:58 PM
 
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The other thing that I forgot to add was that one of the few things I really disliked about school was having to share it with all those kids who didn't want to be there! They seemed to rule the roost socially, and those of us who liked hanging out in the library were scorned for our bookish ways.
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#9 of 23 Old 06-12-2002, 05:37 PM
 
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i think you are correct for older kids...junior high and highschool age kids do not like or need that kind of control.

i do think you have to set lots of rules and have control over smaller kids. mostly , because if they didn't they would run wild. i like structure for teaching young children how to "behave" and listen...etc and I think you need some control to achieve that with a big bunch of kids.

however, i think putting all that control on older kids is likely to cause them to feel rebelious and bad. i think junior high and highschool should be more like college.....you don't have to ask in college.. or even raise your hand (usually).

little kids, i feel much differently.
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#10 of 23 Old 06-12-2002, 08:19 PM
 
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Of course, in college you are either paying a hefty sum to attend or your parents are, and if you don't know enough to do your work on your own, you flunk out. The motivation is different, and the students who are there are a fairly motivated subset of what you see in a public school.

I'm just curious--since many folks think bathroom restrictions are unreasonable. My DH, a high school teacher faces the bathroom question all the time. He always has at least a dozen kids every year who ask to go to the bathroom during his 40 minute class at least 3-5 times a week. They usually will disappear for at least 15 minutes if allowed to do use the bathroom and will disturb as many other classes and students as they possibly can en route. He also sees said students hanging in the halls chatting with their buddies during the break between classes (when they could use the bathroom), ten minutes before they are in his class. They don't have medical problems. What should he do?
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#11 of 23 Old 06-12-2002, 09:38 PM
 
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My brother and SIL and very good friend are all high school teachers. Since they believe that you can't really go to the bathroom on demand they usually let the kids go during class. Not to mention the bathrooms tend to be very crowded during breaks. Plus, how would you rather spend your break? Going to the bathroom or chatting with a friend for a few minutes. I guess if it was always the same kids asking to go to the bathroom every day during your class there might be a question. However, that has not been their experiences, from what they tell me.

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#12 of 23 Old 06-14-2002, 12:31 AM
 
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My dh is a junior high teacher, and the classes he teaches are 40min. long......he "lets" them go as long as they come back in a timely fashion.....it's pretty easy to tell which kids really need to go and which ones are just messing around. I don't think the bathroom thing is a big issue in junior and high school, because you don't have to sit for long. But for little kids, they can't sit for hours w/out a bathroom break and can be embarrassed to ask.

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#13 of 23 Old 06-16-2002, 10:59 AM
 
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The teachers at our school have a little bathroom tag. The children don't ask permission, they just pick up the tag and put it on their desk so the teacher knows where they are, or at least where they are supposed to be. If they stray, they have to talk to the teacher, and possibly the principal, about it. For older kids, the result of skipping class is that they have to find the missed information for themselves, or risk failing tests. It would be quite reasonable for a teacher to say that he would not provide extra help to a kid who regularly left a class to go to the bathroom and didn't return for half an hour. I presume, of course, that the teacher is providing worthwhile information that the kids want to receive.

Why shouldn't teachers be able to trust that the kids will do the right thing and then talk to the ones who abuse the system? The complaint from so many kids who don't want to be in school is that the adults don't trust them.
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#14 of 23 Old 06-19-2002, 04:33 PM
 
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I was in a "pullout program" for gifted kids in elementary school--we spent a half day a week in our own little building. On the first day, the teachers said, "We have only two rules here: Take care of yourself, and be considerate." That meant that if you needed to go to the bathroom, sharpen your pencil, etc., you just did it, with as little disruption as possible. It was WONDERFUL! We felt much freer and more respected than in regular school, and when we were in the middle of listening to a lecture or having a class discussion, we weren't interrupted by somebody asking to use the bathroom.

I think it would be great to have those two rules for all classrooms. However, they probably wouldn't work for kids who've been "ruined" by a few years in typical draconian classrooms and aren't especially academically eager (like the kids in this gifted program were). Starting out with these rules in first grade, tho, with some explanation of what they mean, could be pretty effective.

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#15 of 23 Old 06-19-2002, 05:10 PM
 
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I always liked my teachers and enjoyed the coursework in public school, but here is what I did not like about public school:
the violence.

In Kindergarten, I remember getting punched in the stomach for sitting in a chair that a little classmate fo mine wanted to sit in.

In 4th grade, a male classmate pushed me to the ground on the playground for ignoring his insults.

In 7th grade, on the bus ride home, a girl set a boy's shirt on fire.

Also in 7th grade, there were rumors of "race riots" and rumors that some guy had brought a knife to school.

In 9th grade, again on the bus, 2 guys got in a fight behind me and I got splattered with blood when one popped the other's nose.

I think this is just too much for a child to handle.
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#16 of 23 Old 06-24-2002, 07:12 PM
 
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I also dropped out in high school and have no regrets. I'm at the community college now and am transferring to the state university next term.

There is nothing you can learn in high school that you can't learn in college. I know someone who dropped out in 7th grade and is now at the community college. He only has to do 2 years there and then can go to a university. High school is useless! (Although if a kid likes it, then by all means stay in! Free education!)

The only thing I regret is waiting two years after getting my GED to start college.

Also, at the community colleges no one brings guns and I've never gotten beaten up or sexually assaulted. And the teachers don't call me names and tell me I can't go to the bathroom or bring food to class.
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#17 of 23 Old 07-25-2002, 02:32 AM
 
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Interesting thread. I loved school from K through 4 years of college. I know that is not everyone's experience though. Our older daughter just finished kindergarten at an alternative PS multi-age elementary. So fabulous!!!
I have to say I deeply admire Britishmum for understanding that her experience will not necessarily be repeated by her child(ren) and will allow them to go where they fit best. Incredible! I loved traditional school so much that I cannot fathom keeping my kids out of it. How open minded of you, Britishmum, for giving your kids an option that you yourself did not like. Not many people do that, myself included. I am under the assumption that everyone who HS their kids disliked PS themselves. Is this true?
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#18 of 23 Old 07-25-2002, 10:08 AM
 
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I didn't dislike PS until I was a junior in high school. So, I guess it's not true for me. Of course, my memories of PS are mostly that of those two years. My oldest ds went to PS for K-the beginning of 4th grade. Had he enjoyed it, he had the choice to stay. He did not enjoy it. I feel that the rest of my kids should also remain at home as dividing my attention, for me personally, would be very difficult. My father was a PS superintendant for 30 yrs, a principal before that and a teacher before that. He doesn't feel that PS or any "school" is necessary for all children. It has nothing to do with being open to letting your kids do what you didn't like. It has alot to do with what works best for your family.

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#19 of 23 Old 07-25-2002, 11:13 AM
 
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I just wanted to say how interesting it is to read everyone's thoughts here. I myself *hated* high school for a variety of reasons but never considered any alternative, not that it would have been allowed by my all-controlling mother.

Now we are starting to consider schooling options for my ds. He's too young but I want to investigate all options and choose what we think is absolutely best for him and that requires pre-planning as some schools fill up early (meaning private). However, our county schools are the best in the state and of the best in the national (academics wise) so that would be our best free option.

If I'm not working at that point, I will certainly consider homeschooling as I've seen great results with this too. It's so much to consider and it's always interesting to read what others experienced and learn from that. I just hope we can find the best fit for him to help him learn and grow.
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#20 of 23 Old 07-30-2002, 06:02 PM
 
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I loved high school! I hated the social aspects but loved the academics. However, I got lucky. I was/am one of the "nerds." Every class I took was AP or honors. I had many of the same teachers for multiple classes. The few "regular" classes I had take were awful. The teachers had no respect for the students and vice versa.

I am a second grade teacher in a public school. I majored in Early Childhood education in college. I completely disagree with the belief that young children have to be "controled" to be educated. The class I did student teaching in (2nd grade) the students went to the bathroom as they needed. Yes - there were rules and expectations governing that, but it worked beautifully. The Kindergaren and 1st grade classes I worked in had there own water fountain and bathroom in the class. The students were free to go as they needed. It amazes how children so young CAN direct their own learning. If little ones are not actively involved in their learning, then they are not learning. If their physical needs are not being met, then they can not focus on the mental challenges presented to them. A child that is brought up knowing only external control will have a much more difficult time controling themselves as they get older.

All that said - if at all possible, none of my children will go to public school. I have seen too many teachers who had no business being there. Unfortunately, due to a severe teacher shortage in most areas, it is almost impossible for a principle to get rid of a bad teacher. I have known abusive teachers that merely get transferred inside a school district in the hopes that they will eventually quit. Public school is a risk I would prefer not to take with my own little ones.
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#21 of 23 Old 07-30-2002, 07:26 PM
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I hated school - not because of the learning - because of the other kids.
I went to different schools in K and 1st grade. Then I transferred to a new school district for second grade. We moved in July and I met my neighbor and she was my only friend when I started school. So on the first day of school - I went in to the cafeteria and went to sit with her. Well her friend - whose name I remember to this day - looked at me and said as snottily as possible - "I don't think you should sit here - find somewhere else to sit" I spent the next two school years sitting alone at lunch and reading. Because this girl decided that I shouldn't sit there and that she didn't like me - and she was the most popular girl in school - I had no friends except for the ones who didn't bathe regulary or were just icky. I didn't have a good friend until 4th grade - and she would ignore me for days at a time. Like we would walk to school together and then once we got into clas she wouldn't talk to me at all all day long until we walked home. Never did find out why.
Because none of the other kids liked me - the teachers very much thought I was a trouble maker until I got to 5th and 6th grades.
Then middle school was a whole other ballgame. I HATED IT THERE. Stuck up popoular kids whose whole goal was to exclude anyone that didn't look like they thought everyone should. I ended hanging out with the stoners and freaks cause at least they didn't are that I didn't dress a certain way.
High school was a bit better - but that girl who didn't like me - was in school with me until the day we graduated. And she was always a bitch to me. Even when we were both 18. Stunning huh?
I went to a very high income bracket school district. And while the education that I recieved was great - the people there were horrible horrible - convinced that they were better and could do whatever they liked to the people who didn't quite fit in.
I still have issues with not looking like eveyone else - or having enough moeny to fit in. I am still horribly shy around new people - and i still get angry about school.
I want to homeschool my kids through grade school. Then they will be a little older and a bit more secure in who they are before they hit ps. I think that ps can be a great thing. But until the parents can teach their kids to not be sh*theads and the teachers are allowed to enforce some basic rules of respect - I don't think it is a good thing for all kids. Some one always has to be the picked on little kid.
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#22 of 23 Old 07-30-2002, 08:20 PM
 
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I went to so many different schools--a different one every year, sometimes two a year up until 8th grade, most of them in rural areas. I was in public hs in Appalachia for a couple of quarters when my parents pulled me out after I was kicked out for refusing to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance and school prayer. I chose to be kicked out rather than write an essay on "Why I Love God and My Country"--but my parents were cool, didn't make me go back & sent me to boarding school. I know they felt guilty for shuttling me around so much. Private school was an improvement over that experience, but it wasn't much better. I was exposed to a lot of troubled kids whose parents didn't want to be bothered with them--there was a lot of drug & alcohol abuse, as well as promiscuity. I had to spend a lot of energy dealing with that rather than learning things I wanted to learn. And the quality of the teachers wasn't that great--by my senior year I had run out of classes to take & they didn't know what to do with me. I became the elective queen. Sometimes I get angry when I think about myself back then--I was a bright kid who loved learning & if I had better mentoring and exposure to things I was interested in and more challenges, it would have made a big difference. The most I've learned were the things I had to teach myself. Which is why I really like the idea of homeschooling and unschooling.
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#23 of 23 Old 07-30-2002, 10:00 PM
 
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There have been so many great points of view and stories here, I just wanted to add mine.

I didn't "hate" school until about my junior or senior year of high school. By that time it was really a waste of time, and thanks to a zero period honors english class I was able to arrange my schedule to be out at lunchtime. I was always considered "gifted", I skipped the fifth grade because the work was just not challenging enough for me, but they didn't prepare me emotionally or academically for that big jump and I was totally unsupported when school started the next year. That was when I stopped really liking school. I loved learning and reading, but I was so bored, not only by the work but the waiting around for the other students and the teacher to be available.
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