Monday, May 13, 2013

Turns out I'm not as dumb as I thought I was.

All my writing for the past several months has been in the form of papers for my classes (I'm working on my degree like I always said I would after Peter finished med school). I haven't had much time to write anything personal other than the scribbles and observations in my notebook waiting for class to begin.

Since it's teacher appreciation week I thought I'd share a quick thought about my own public school education. First of all, my middle school was strongly tracked. Being miserable and unmotivated in the sixth grade led to poor performance and resulted in me being tracked in the lowest achieving group. Suddenly in seventh grade I found myself in classes where the kids mostly spoke Spanish, while all my friends were in other classes. The teachers I had were clearly unmotivated and uninspired and had pretty darn low expectations, which I honestly didn't even halfway try to meet. By eighth grade being lonely, unhappy, and getting poor grades had become the norm for me, and my parents were starting to get concerned. They considered sending me to a private school, but it just wasn't a fiscally sound idea, and it probably wouldn't have helped anyway. I was extremely awkward and I'm pretty sure being in an environment of solely socioeconomically advantaged peers wouldn't have done much for my self esteem.

Review: Tracking is the devil, and middle school was hell.

Pretty much the same as middle school, except now add braces and acne. I had some awful teachers. I mean AWFUL. In the class which I had the most difficulty, the teacher absolutely did not care if we learned or not. The teacher was just there to get a paycheck. In chemistry I got so behind that I actually started dozing off because it was like listening to someone speaking gibberish for an hour, in that teaching style where they just stand at the front of the class and drone.

The only class where the teacher actually wanted to inspire appreciation for the subject was Language Arts/Lit. There, the teacher even took into account different learning styles, and gave assignments that were creative and really asked us to use our brains. To this day ten years later I still remember stuff from her classes, go fig.

Summary: How do you know I had a terrible public school education? Because by the end I was CONVINCED that I was dumb; incapable of learning. I didn't even bother applying for college. Instead I got a job, got married, moved overseas, helped Mr A become Dr A, and somewhere along the way I realized I was not dumb. I'd thumb through his textbooks from medical school and (with a lot of glossary/index help) I COULD understand what I was reading, even though it was geared to the highest level of education. I applied to a small college, and (after some intensely studied for competency/placement exams) got in without having to take a single remedial class. The thing that makes me really mad, and what I'd like to ask my old high school is this: How is it that it took me two times and a miserable season of Summer school to get through high school algebra, yet I got a high A my first time through college algebra even though I hadn't taken a math class in nearly a decade? Because my professor, Dr Karnati, was EXCELLENT, and my high school teacher was crap.
Because teachers who don't give a crap inspire their students to do the same.

All the terrible teachers I had growing up have make me appreciate the great teachers I have now, and serve as excellent models of what I shouldn't do when my Education degree is finally complete.

----Post Edit----------------------------------------------------
It wasn't around back then, but I so wish I could have done the K12 program. It would have let me do all the academic work required without having to deal with all the bull crap of public school. Also, in my experience, personal accountability inspires enthusiasm.