Newest Review: ... and can safely say that I have never been or never will be a mathematics or science person! My geography teacher was the only one then ... more
Teacher's Pets, False Accusations and Adulthood: My Schooling Experience
Member Name: Goonerette89
Advantages: Free education and you can make friends.
Disadvantages: Students, teachers, rigid, lack of order, bias, endless exams, uncreative.
It really started with me and my famous bobble hat at nursery but let's *skip* it and go straight to primary school (just don't tell the teacher!)
My first experience of the National Curriculum and its education system began at a primary school in Holloway in London. Annoyingly through absolutely no choice of my own I moved south to the Isle of Wight where I attended a new primary school in East Cowes (I recall being shocked at witnessing the teacher drag a boy by his clothes and pinning him against a wall; something like that anyway, it was too long ago to extract real details from my now 22 year old mind - nonetheless I was seven and never knew such discipline then!) I only stayed at that school a year or so and although young, was probably glad to depart. I then went to a primary school in Carisbrooke where I stayed the rest of my primary school duration and generally liked it. I was confident with friends and I'd settled well onto the island; this school was a good one.
Next up it was middle school...
So came the scary move to middle school in year five. Looking back at it the middle schools are relatively small schools with say, 200 students, if that. At the age of ten or eleven, it is quite an intimidating experience. I can see the first day there (maybe on induction day or the start of term) clearly. I can see the classroom I was in which horrifically doubled up as the lunchtime 'canteen'. Then we got our first piece of work. Probably easy as anything looking back on it but my nerves got the better of me and it looked ever so difficult in comparison to primary school work! I stayed at this same middle school to the final day. How did I rate my middle school experience? Awful.
Probably the worst of the lot. I don't know how I managed to see it through but I did. However it damaged my confidence horribly and my trust in others. The teachers had their clear favourites of course and I wasn't one of them - it was certainly a case of your face fitting with many teachers. My geography teacher always seemed to like me though. I was good at geography but shy, I think. He was great: funny, firm, popular, knowledgable and never patronising (my least favourite treat in a human being and something I've promised myself I shall never accept from anyone). At the end of Year 8 (yippee!) the school held its annual valedictory ball to see off the leaving students - you know the type: pretentious girls in their prom dresses, an awards ceremony and teachers' speeches about what a pleasure it was to finally get rid of us, oops, sorry to teach us. Needless to say that I predicted who would get the awards and recieve the arse licking, and 13 year olds in their gowns and ten layers of foundation; it just wasn't my scene. However my favourite geography teacher insisted I go, and so I did. Much to my shock I was presented with the Geographer of the Year award and another big award. When I was about 7 years old I began to learn world capitals, mountain ranges etc. and establish an intetest in geography and the world and studied atlases geekily until I knew everything from the capital of Mongolia to where Buenos Aires was located. Of course it is not a competition at that age but having shown an interest in words at about two years old, and being sent to the class above me when I was five, during reading lessons, I was beginning to understand my academic stengths. Of course every human has strengths and they are more often than not balanced out by weaknesses. Well, I can still recall struggling with my divisions in primary school and can safely say that I have never been or never will be a mathematics or science person! My geography teacher was the only one then to see through my shyness and modesty and credit my ability at a school where amongst the popular girls, in particular, I felt ignored and often unfairly treared. My best friend and I were even accused of something fairly serious with no proof whatsoever; I was left in tears by this incident because I was such a timid kid. Having checked on the CCTV of the event *after* jumping to conclusions and accusing us, they obviously realised we didn't do it and we revieved absolutely no apology. It was not the first false accusation and gun jumping from the teachers. My friend even had an eraser thrown at her by our art teacher from across the classroom.
Thankfully I had that one teacher who seemed to have a belief in me and rewarded me with at least one brief moment of happiness. It was simply a poor school and what was worse was my best friends all left at certain periods leaving me feel isolated amongst the snobs, bullies and discouraging, biased teachers. The moral? If you feel you have no teachers to approach, don't give up as there may be one gem amongst them and keep on going because you won't be there an eternity - even if it is feeling that way.
Onto high school...
In 2002 it was high school and although a huge school with 1,500 students, it was actually a relief. Also one of my best friends who had left my middle school, would rejoin me at high school. We walked into the school together, we got lost together, we got scared together and laughed and cried together in our first few days there. It was like a fresh new start with new confidence and new friends and teachers. We went home at lunch prior to getting our lunchtime pass, trying to dodge the teachers as we crept out and finally I was having a few laughs again. In fact I did some stupidly funny, embarrassing things then. The school had the biggest fields ever and a huge floodlit Astroturf, squash courts and weights rooms; it had many buildings and stairs and as weird as it sounds, I used to love walking around it, especially in summertime. My technology and French lessons in particular were out of control though because the teachers couldn't keep control. I'm not personally in favour of old fashioned physical discipline (hardly anyone in my family through the years smacked their children), however the fact the teachers took the backchatting and idiocy they did is not only worryingly weak but severely affects the good students' concentration. In the end the students told the teachers what to do!
Homework was ridiculous - to the point it prevented you from having outside life. There was just so much emphasis on written work and little on living and creativity. Some nights I'd be in tears; five pieces in one day was enough but it kept coming. I've learnt more watching the world go by at a railway station.
By Year 11 we were sitting our GCSEs and this would contribute to the decision we made in terms of sixth form, college or employment. I chose textiles in technology after sampling all types of technology lessons in Years 9 and 10. There was really the one grade that didn't match my expectations hence I decided to stay on at sixth form and use that as an opportunity to resit it and up the grade slightly. Along with chosen subjects (mine were art, photography and er, maths) and any resits, citizenship was also a compulsary aspect of our timetable. However, very few turned up to these classes! Often we would have about five at the most in class and annoyingly be sent away (talk about others affecting your education!) I really enjoyed the citizenship lessons myself. I swiftly took the resit halfway through the first year and achieved the grade I originally wanted and the teacher was good.
My other teachers were fine as well and all treated you like an adult. We were free of school uniform as well, but jeans and trainers were the exception. We had our own common room and entered and exited as we pleased. We played music, studied and generally chilled out. I liked it as the remaining students were relatively mature but not particularly snobby either. The loud, immature girls who smoked in class and the boys who ran around like toddlers had dropped out or entered college, naturally. Although I am sure many good boys and girls went then as well. The teaching was good but the timetables were frustrating and inconsistent: I would have a lesson at period one and then be devoid of any lessons until the end of the day. Much time was spent studying or chilling, so to speak, in the common room or the quieter art block. Sometimes I would just walk home and recuperate!
Luckily the school is situated near the town centre and amongst some beautiful public footpaths. When I was having an emotional teenage moment, I would get my portable CD player out, grab my camera and handbag, and take a slow walk past the fields and ponds into town. That is the benefit of sixth form: whilst you may have to sign out when you have a/some free period(s), you do have slightly more adult freedom. The teachers harrass you less and are always there should you require help. You also have the examinations waiting at the end which are okay but they're a large step up from GCSEs.
However if you are more practical and weak at exams, college is undoubedly a better choice. With options that a school could generally never offer like childcare, engineering and fashion, college is broader in a sense and probably a better choice if you are not interested in university. There's no reason ypu should be other than specific career requirements: there is also the option of apprenticeships. I decided to try college because I wanted to study something else and though art is great, it wasn't going to take me anywhere and I adore photography but it is a useless subject career-wise.
With college, you may have to wear a uniform, though. I studied travel and tourism and a blue suit was the order of everyday! It does provide an even more adult atmosphere; partly because there are adults studying there as well which offers some comfort in a way, and it is not a 'school'. At sixth form we continued to call the teachers by their title and surname (aged 16, 17, 18...) whereas at college it is Julie, Kevin, Marie etc. which helps to sustain a laid-back vibe. Mind you the first thing the greeted me when I walked to the Isle of Wight College was a boy and girl having sex on the grounds near the entrance! Very laid-back.
Work is easy enough, mostly computer-based, but you have to work efficiently and you have stricter deadlines. Work is made up of units and you can attain either a pass, merit or distinction, depending on quantity and quality. Everyone must complete the pass section of the units but it is up to you if you want to do the merits and distinctions. The latter are slightly harder and of course it requires more input but if you achieve the merits or/and distinctions, you are rewarded with more UCAS points at the end of the course. Tinetables are better because the course is taught over mornings, afternoons or whole days. My course consisted of all day Tuesday and Thursday and Friday mornings. Teachers were good and although I misunderstood one then, I really admire her stance looking back. Key Skills in both IT and communication are compulsary with any course and the only exams you will find yourself sitting - promise! Even they are fairly standard computer tests. However there is also research and typed work on top of this you must complete. I completed mine swiftly but the people who mark them kept returning it despite the teacher believing it was fine. Eventually with one or two tweaks, it was fine. Bare in mind though this is the annoying part and you cannot pass your course unless you pass this part so there is no point in going missing here! Don't procrastinate; just get this part out of the way if possible.
Luckily the students in my class restored my confidence in fellow girls somewhat as they were very mature and intelligent. We hardly had any boys, which worried me at first but I got on with every girl. However we went on about three major trips to France and Spain (at a price; one was £600 and the other was £300), and both were spoilled by immature, moaning students from the other travel class. You also have to pay materials fees at college which was about £20, I think, so money is a factor but you are warned when you enrol.
I have got mixed feelings on school personally, with reservations about the comformity the British system involves and how rigid it is; also about the possibility of overrating the importance of exams, university and schooling in general. Exams at seven are ridiculous and testing children via one way is flawed and unfair. I'm not usually one to say Country X does this better and Country Y does that better because of ignorance but children are only just beginning their schooling in Scandinavia at the time our poor kids are sitting at a table in silence answering stupid questions; yet they have amongst the highest literacy rates in the world. Not only that but exams emphasise what you can recall and not neccessarily what you understood.
I honestly think that I have learned more in my own time than at school although I did okay in exams and high school. I learned more about sex and relationships and life experiences at home than at school where everyone spent their time sniggering. Okay so some kids are from a prudish or reserved background so if the schools don't explain, who will? It's a shame we expect the schools to do all our dirty work.
I think that the biggest lesson is learned in life itself and in the UK we have a habit of discouraging ambition and success, or accusing those who do well or are confident of doing well of being arrogant. There seems to be this notion in the UK that the working class should know their place and should stay in it. Which I think explains why the average Briton critisises footballers' wages but never high earning middle class sportsmen or women like golfers, racing drivers or tennis players. I just want to say to any youngster who may have found their calling - don't let anyone put you off, don't be afraid of confidence, ambition and success and don't build every last hope on age, school or university; especially if things don't go your way in exams or things don't happen straightaway. Do your best at school, stay classy and go out there and be true to yourself.
Sorry if I have bored you or you disagree with my opinion but hopefully someone will find it helpful; whether you are about to leave school or left it thirty years ago - good luck with achieving your goals. Go get 'em!
Summary: Individual experiences differ but don't let bad experiences discourage you!