Teachers Who Hated School, part 1

Posted: 2011/03/09 in Classroom Teacher, Education, High School, Students

There’s a little secret among a certain group of teachers in every high school. Well, I don’t keep it a secret. I tell my students and I’ve even told the assembled members of the Board of Education — I really hated high school.

I didn’t hate all of high school, only the majority of my classes.

  • I have poor math skills and people generally don’t enjoy the things they’re not good at (and, no, I  can’t explain how I had three years of F’s in math classes, but got a 640 out of 800 on my math SATs).
  • I also hated going to any of my science classes. This is curious since I’m such a big fan of science shows on a variety of TV channels: the geological history of the Himalayas, the moons of Saturn, the discovery of feathers on flying dinosaurs, the synapses of the brain. How did my science teachers manage to make all this fascinating stuff so tedious?
  • I’m also a fan of history, geography and civics, but was turned off by the lecturing of my social studies teachers. How many dates and facts could they prattle off in 55 minutes as dead-eyed teenagers scribbled notes?
  • I’ve always loved writing and half of my English classes were great. The other half of the time I wondered aloud why we had such an uninspired reading list and such an uninspiring teacher.

But then there was art. One year I did clay sculpting. Another semester I took calligraphy. Create things, paint things, make things — that was what I wanted to do, that’s where I came alive. I remember one assignment where we each wrote a poem and turned it into a book. I remember that but I don’t remember any of the long lists we memorized in science class.

I also attended school as a way to get to “after school.” I was on the debating team and in the humanities club; I edited the lit magazine, starred in the senior play and laid out the yearbook. I could generally avoid going home four days per week. Was I using the school building as a refuge? Whatever the case, I learned to work with teams, I learned to be responsible for finished products on absolute deadlines, I learned communication and self-expression.

The skills that have most benefited me in life are the ones I honed after school. But my grades in high school were based on whether or not I had memorized the dates and locations of Civil War battles. No wonder I hated high school. As I look back, I still do.

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