We've been talking a lot about the educational system here at the Alibi recently, which you can read more about in the latest issue that's available 'til Jan. 27 (get it while you can). I’m going to recount some of my best and worst educational experiences. My time in the public (and briefly private-ish) educational system was a wild ride, and within most of my memory, not a good one. Let’s see why!
When I was in second grade I was sexually harassed by a boy in my class. Over the school year he gathered other boys to chase me and harass me. When I would complain to teachers they would tell me something like, “Oh he just likes you!” or “Boys will be boys. Ignore him and he’ll stop.” My best friend was the only person who took me seriously. She would chase him and threaten him back, which would stop them for a while, but since she was in the grade above me, she couldn’t always be there. I started dissociating around this time.
In third grade I was placed in the same class as my harasser again, even though I had made many complaints about his behavior. I remember I cried all night the day before classes started because I was so afraid to be in the same space with him again. My mom fought most of the year trying to get the school administration to change their decision but they said all the other classes were full. Because I was in the same class as this kid again, I was nervous and distracted all the time. My teacher would yell at me a lot for a few reasons: I didn’t pay attention, I collected rocks from the playground (which I guess was stealing school property) and because I had a hard time doing math.
Nothing particularly notable happened until middle school (or maybe it did and I just can’t remember because of the dissociation junk). One of my best friends who had an aptitude for math was yelled at by our math teacher because he didn’t show his work. He explained that he didn’t show his work because he could do it all in his head and out teacher said he couldn’t and was probably cheating.
Our humanities teacher, on the other hand, was very funny and somewhat imperious (though, I suppose most adults are at that age). He encouraged me to write like there was no tomorrow. It was his last year teaching at our school, so at the end of the year I wrote him a poem about how I would miss him and how he really helped me and he cried. We both were proud.
My seventh grade science teacher was absolutely ridiculous. I asked her a question about some type of rock and she actually responded, “Because God made it that way, sweetie.”
My eighth grade history teacher was also very encouraging to me as a writer. For a paper about an event during the American Revolution, I wrote it how I thought a journalist during that time would write it, and after I read it to the class she asked me if I plagiarized it. She didn’t mean it to be insulting (though I was offended, cuz I write gr8) she was just incredibly surprised that a young teenager could write like that so convincingly.
At the beginning of high school I went to a charter school. During the first semester, while my humanities teacher was giving a lecture, I raised my hand because I had a question (like ya do), and then she stopped her lecture and yelled at me for interrupting her.
By the time tenth grade began, I started going to a public school. My anxiety and depression were the worst I had ever experienced in my life at that point (within memory). Thankfully all of my teachers were incredibly kind and eager to teach.
My class schedule was a bit unusual because I went to a school with a different curriculum the year before. I was kind of behind in science (I had taken the class that juniors took at that school, but I hadn’t taken what freshmen took) and ahead in history. So in my science class I was with a lot of kids who had failed it many times. The kid who sat behind me tried to feel me up one day and the teacher didn’t even write him up. Another kid would bother me constantly about dating him which made me extremely uncomfortable. The teacher was nice but he didn’t protect me, which I resent.
My history teacher was completely different. She was lively, intelligent and treated her students how they treated her. She taught me to be studious, respect myself and to stand up for myself. I felt safe in her classroom.
My English teacher was hilarious, kind and patient. I felt like I could be myself around him and I felt safe in his classroom, too. He taught me to be critical and seriously inquire about things and to be confident about my writing and my awkwardness.
By the time eleventh grade started, the school system (and therefore a lot of teachers) began to rely heavily on technology. I remember in one class in particular—my English class—if the computer didn’t work for some reason, we weren’t going to be taught that day. This forced technological shift was particularly difficult for me because I’ve always learned best by actually doing something, not reading about doing things or being told how to.
My first English class in college didn’t go well. My teacher talked to everyone like we were children and was noticeably nicer to the guys in class. Once she gave me a paper back telling me to make the exact corrections that she made and I would get an A. I did what she said and got a D on the paper.
My second English class was a completely different experience. My teacher was incredibly kind, exceptionally encouraging and inspirational. It was her last semester teaching, which is a shame because I wanted to take more or her classes.
I ended up giving up on college because—much like the forced technological shift I experienced my junior year—it was too much reading about doing things and not enough doing for me. Regardless of my bad experiences, I’m extremely grateful for the educational opportunities I’ve had because at the end of the day, I learned something.