18 votes

What was your educational experience like?

What did you like about school?
What did you dislike about it?
What were the most important things that you learned?
What would you change about education if you had the power?
If you could go back and re-do things knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?

I'm not necessarily looking for individual answers to each question, I'm just putting those out there to frame the kind of thoughts I'm looking for. I'm really just interested in hearing other people's stories! I'm a teacher and frequently do a lot of talking about education from my own perspective, but I don't feel like I do enough listening to others' views.

Also, to avoid gumming up the questions with multiple tenses, I wrote everything in past tense. That doesn't mean I'm only interested in the responses of people who are done with their formal education though. I'd love to hear from people who are still in school as well!

25 comments

  1. Micycle_the_Bichael
    Link
    I know you said you aren't necessarily looking for people to answer each question, but you said you're a teacher and so I am viewing this as a quiz and answering it as such :P focusing on Uni...

    I know you said you aren't necessarily looking for people to answer each question, but you said you're a teacher and so I am viewing this as a quiz and answering it as such :P focusing on Uni because High School for me was the epitome of bland. It wasn't until college that I switched my brain on and started existing as a person with a personality and thoughts and stuff. Sorry for the essay response to each question.

    What did you like about school?

    I was a math/cs double major at a small liberal arts school. I liked learning a lot. I liked hearing about what my peers and professors found most interesting and seeing the passion in their eyes as they talked. I haven't found a place similar to that where people are willing to be that open and ready to wear their heart on their sleeve and talk about what they REALLY REALLY care about. Maybe that's a part of moving from university where you're constantly learning new interesting things in a field you care about, maybe its a thing that happens when you move into a job and your focus becomes paying bills and survival. I don't really know the answer to that. But that's what I really liked about University, learning, and hearing people talk about things they learned that they were passionate and excited about.

    What did you dislike about it?

    Not a shocker, but requirements and scheduling. Lots of classes I had to take because I needed to meet <insert requirement> before I graduated and only X classes met that requirement, some of them would already be filled up, some of them would conflict with required classes for my major, some of them just sounded dumb. I took too many classes that I didn't want to take because I couldn't get into classes I wanted to.

    What were the most important things that you learned?

    Might be a weird and egotistical answer, but I think the thing I value most that I learned in college was empathy. And it was in a lot of different ways. I like to think I'm a quick learner, and my GPA in college compared to how much work I put in seems to agree. So I spent a lot of time helping my peers with their homework, helping them understand concepts they were struggling with, working with them on projects and trying to at first help them learn the skills that made me successful and later help them learn skills that worked for them to help them learn faster and retain more information. Spending that much time with people, I started to realize I needed to get off my high horse of "if they just did what I did they'd be as good at things as me" and realize that isn't true at all. I became acquaintances with a lot of them and learned about a whole lot of obstacles people were facing that made the classes I excelled in so hard for them. I also started taking a lot of religion classes as a minor because I loved one of the professors and about halfway through one of the classes I realized I was constantly asking others for help understanding the reading and spending hours in the profs office hours. I was the student I had previously looked down upon in my math/cs courses. It was a really humbling experience that I wish more CS/Math people would feel, and I mean really feel and not just experience the struggle and say "well humanities are stupid anyway who needs them." I was also a very stereotypical "nice straight white dude". I wasn't actively hateful towards minorities or women, but I had grown up in a small, white, Republican town and that was what shaped my ideas. Then I went to college and was exposed to people with vastly different upbringings and backgrounds from around the world and I realized most my ideas didn't work when exposed to all this new data (I feel weird comparing people's life experiences to data, but for the sake of clarity of my point I'm sticking with it). I had to re-evaluate a lot, and over time transformed from "Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, if you fail its your fault" to "We should investigate how we as a society are failing our most vulnerable and see what we can do to help them." If you asked me to define my whole identity in one word, I'd say empathetic or kind, and I didn't develop that until college.

    What would you change about education if you had the power?

    This is a system that was from the hardest but my favorite classes I took in college. They were the 2 highest level math courses the department offered. The thing I liked most was how they handled homework. If we were going to start learning about topic T on Monday, we would have a homework assignment due on Monday that covered the chapter that T was in. Each assignment was 10 points: 8 points for completing the assignment, 0.2 points per question for getting the question right. It meant that more people read the assigned reading before class. This meant everyone was more primed to vocab words and ideas. You could read the chapter, write down "I didn't understand the topic" and get 8/10 on each assignment. Homework was a small % of your final grade, and just knowing you has an assigned reading meant you could get at least an 80% in that area. It made teaching topics SO much easier on the professor, while not punishing students who couldn't self-teach too hard. I liked it a lot. I found it made the lectures a lot more interesting because since we were all slightly familiar with the material, we spent less time getting talked at, and more time asking questions that really got into the meat of the topics. I liked that a lot.

    From a high school level: get rid of homework, or at least make it optional. Students are already in school for so much of the day. Give them the time and opportunity to find out who they are and what they like outside of the classroom. There's so much more to being a person than grades and tests, but school doesn't always give you the chance to learn those things. I think there's a chance more people would choose trade jobs or would decide not to go to college unnecessarily if they had time in high school to find out what they like and don't like. Just my $0.02 though.

    If you could go back and re-do things knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?

    I wouldn't be a collegiate athlete. I loved being an athlete while I was in school. It gave me an in-group immediately upon walking on campus. It meant I didn't have to leave my comfort zone as much because I spent 5 hours a day with the same people (eating lunch together, eating dinner together, practice, and sometimes hitting the lib together). But that was a double-edge sword. There are so many people who I was aquantances with that I wish I would have seen more or hung out with more. But, at least at my school, sports were like a cult. You pretty much only hung out with your teammates. There was a lot of peer pressure to always go to team parties over any other event, to mostly only hang out with your teammates. I don't really care about all the time I sank into the sport, I loved it and I wouldn't trade that part of the experience for the world. But I do wish I would have spent more time with people I met outside my team, and given my college environment and my anxiety about people hating me, the only way I would have done that would be to have not joined the team.

    6 votes
  2. lepigpen
    Link
    I loved education. But I wasn't raised to work hard. These two things have a funny, chaotic chemistry. I like to say that my parents didn't raise me like wolves, because at least wolves raise...

    I loved education. But I wasn't raised to work hard. These two things have a funny, chaotic chemistry. I like to say that my parents didn't raise me like wolves, because at least wolves raise their kids. Aka, they basically gave me things I needed and set me off into the world. I did whatever I wanted. And having older brothers made it easier for me to understand to not fuck that situation up. Obviously, if I was an only child, this story could have had a much worse ending.

    I always loved school/education. Even when math got very difficult. Even when I got glasses at 18 and realized my parents had let me be basically blind my entire childhood. Even when I dropped out second year of community college because I realized that ship had sailed. I could not achieve academically, unfortunately.

    After all of this, I would still sit in on my GF at the times classes at UCLA. She was studying envi sci so it was interesting. I would actually engage in her classes. Speak with the professor. It felt horribly ironic, good and bad at the same time. Like any natural human being, I am a student of the world. But unlike other humans, I am not an academic achiever. I never planned for anything, if I didn't feel like doing something I didn't do it (this meant 0 homework credit, I passed my classes on test scores alone basically). By the time I matured enough to see how everybody else was living, it was just way way too late and it feels as though I'm not even allowed to hold my parents in contempt for their decisions. At first when I was 18 or 20 my brothers understood, sympathized, etc. Now I am 28, nobody gives a fuck about the past. Move on. And I have in many ways but in modern society having no degree, no trade skills, and no resources to easily attain either is a literal death knell. A death sentence.

    I miss my freshman English teacher that taught me poetry and revealed to me the world of hip hop/lyricism. I miss my sophomore history teacher that showed me tough love and responsibility. He did not pull punches. I miss my junior bio teacher that taught me logical thinking and emotional control. He was incredibly neutral. And I miss my senior english teacher that taught me potential, opportunity, and how to use both to achieve in life.

    And most of all I miss band/music. I did high school band for 5 years, starting my last year of middle school. I was not a band geek. I did not fit in and it felt awkward for a while. But it taught me to appreciate everybody, even if they're the complete opposite of you. There were times I really didn't like anybody there and wanted to just drop the class. Now I would give anything to go back and be with that group of humans and treat them better, connect more, engage.

    Education may have chewed me up and spit me out because of decisions my parents made very early on, but nobody can diminish what education stands for in our culture. Knowledge is actually the back burner, only taking center stage in certain fields and grad programs. The real boon of the system is culture, connection, engagement, involvement, and the person it makes you for the rest of your life not spent in education systems.

    6 votes
  3. [5]
    NecrophiliaChocolate
    Link
    Highschool: I went to an international school so my experience was really wild. I really like the fact that I still have good friends from all over the world. I could pick almost any continent and...

    Highschool: I went to an international school so my experience was really wild. I really like the fact that I still have good friends from all over the world. I could pick almost any continent and meet up with some friends. The content was quite tough, I had the IB curriculum, which for me at the time was conceptually not the easiest of things. What I disliked? Its tough to say, can I say the cost? It was a private school and my family could barely afford us going there, so when I was struggling academically, seeing the school bill really doubled down. Another thing is, literally everyone there was incredibly smart, as a result I have also kept myself to those expectations, for better or worse.

    University: Went to a tech school in the US, many ragrets. A lot of people's interests didnt meet mine, people were into video games and drinking, I was into neither (I did some console gaming, even then I liked going out and talking to people). But even then I have some really good friends here who I know I will miss everyday when I finish school in a few weeks. I really like the education, I don't find school particularly tough, the concepts are really straight forward, but my performance academically says another story. I ended my first year with a 3.8 but am now chilling at 2.9. But the main thing I dont like is food and location (midwest), its in a rural place and I come from a walking megacity.

    What would I change about my education? A small part of me says I would decide not to go to uni, or at least not in the US, too expensive and far from home. But I really like the person who I am today, I suffered (and still am) through a lot of mental health issues in uni, and I want to believe I am the best version of myself. So instead, I would choose to change nothing. I want to beat my ongoing mental health stuff and not run away.

    Since youre a teacher, maybe this will interest you, one of my most important friends in uni is a prof. I haven't taken a class with him, but I was called in to talk to him about my low GPA. He and I really connected and I always love talking to this person.

    edit: I apologize for talking so much.

    5 votes
    1. [4]
      botanrice
      Link Parent
      Hey man don't apologize, that's what the question is for. You have an interesting perspective being from outside of the US, as I don't know anyone that ever went to an international school. Why...

      Hey man don't apologize, that's what the question is for. You have an interesting perspective being from outside of the US, as I don't know anyone that ever went to an international school. Why did you decide to come to the US for uni?

      3 votes
      1. [3]
        NecrophiliaChocolate
        Link Parent
        Thanks :) I chose the US for a couple of reasons, I knew language would not be a problem. I grew up in a country different from my nationality, so I had to learn the language, but I always felt...

        Thanks :)
        I chose the US for a couple of reasons, I knew language would not be a problem. I grew up in a country different from my nationality, so I had to learn the language, but I always felt like there was a bit of a barrier. I wanted to go to a place where I did not have that barrier. Second was family, I have a lot of family in the US, I also considered the UK because my sister was studying in London at the time, but decided against that because i didnt get into the amazing schools. My (ex) gf at the time was also heavily influencing me, which looking back should not have. I think the biggest thing was I didn't know what I wanted to do in life and I got into a great school in the US, so I just went with the flow. I want to say I should have put more thought into it, but knowing my thinking at the time, I would have made the same decision.

        Also let me say, if any of you have a choice to put your children in an international school, definitely check it out. The exposure I have in meeting people from over 50+ countries is actually really valuable. I think I am a lot more open minded to different cultures and ideas because of it. My favourite day at school was 'International Day', people would come in an outfit representing their country and parents would bring national food. I ate for 2 hours straight.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          botanrice
          Link Parent
          That's great man. I will definitely take you up on looking into the international school thing. I grew up in a very homogenous town that fortunately shaped me in such a way that I crave consuming...

          That's great man. I will definitely take you up on looking into the international school thing. I grew up in a very homogenous town that fortunately shaped me in such a way that I crave consuming and meeting people from other cultures rather than alienating me. I've had a couple opportunities to have long-term interactions with or in other countries and cultures and they have, to this day, been the greatest experiences of my life. I plan to continue expanding that and finding new ways to expose myself. Going to the 'international day' in Washington, DC soon where all the embassies open their doors for some events. I don't think that getting to know other cultures is a simple as that, but should be a cool way to get a glimpse for people in the area.

          2 votes
          1. NecrophiliaChocolate
            Link Parent
            Yeah that sounds like a great idea! Hope you have fun.

            Yeah that sounds like a great idea! Hope you have fun.

            3 votes
  4. unknown user
    Link
    I am a BA in Italian literature, and am preparing for an MA in Linguistics. I'll probably go on to become a linguist after that. My school career was... highs and lows, tops and bottoms, jumps and...

    I am a BA in Italian literature, and am preparing for an MA in Linguistics. I'll probably go on to become a linguist after that.

    My school career was... highs and lows, tops and bottoms, jumps and hops. Messy. Everything below pertains to Turkey BTW.

    I was a child prodigy. I'd study physics and maths and astronomy. Everybody was thinking I'd grow up to be a famous scientist or something. At 5th grade, I was switched to a private school with full scholarship. It was one of the most expensive, best schools of the country. I stayed there for 3 years, 2 of which was nice, but puberty came and I lost my interest in sciences; ended up forcing my teachers and parents to send me back to the public school. Which happened, and that switch fucked my childhood and adolescence up. I wasn't prepared for the toxic environments I found myself in. I was too different, and had to face lots of bullying and exclusion. That was probably because the years I spent at the private school are the years which a kid really learns how to socialise, and I was among the kids of the elite of the country at that time; going then among the... rough ignorant people mostly full of shit (grew up in a rough neighbourhood), I wasn't prepared to handle it.

    Up until uni, I basically hated school, I never listened to my lessons or did my homeworks. But somehow I managed to complete high school and graduate with a mediocre grade.

    What did you like about school?

    Nothing. It was all memorise memorise memorise. Up until this point, I can easily say I gained little from school, academically. I ended up learning to study independently, when, after high school, I first decided to become a programmer, then, two years later, I decided to study literature. Uni was a shitshow, my department lacked personnel (tho most of my teachers were good and tried their best), most of my colleagues were not really serious about their education, and---a problem common to all university students in Turkey, so I don't blame them but the education system---because the high school did not prepare them to serious studying, their inadequacy caused the education to suck even more. Still, I managed to graduate as the highest achiever, with a GPA almost 4/4.

    I think I can say that I managed to learn somethings despite the Turkish school system, which I believe is fine tuned to undermine students and make education into a metaphorical struggle for survival. The recent political troubles have worsened it. Schools are a battle ground for ideologies trying to influence and/or crash youth. It is a huge distraction from actually achieving academically. I hate all sides of the political spectrum equally, because if those fuckers could go get a life instead of trying to shape the world into their ideals, we could all just go about our lives and have fun and joy.

    But at least I had a few great teachers and good friends. Now I have applied to one of the best schools in the country, and I hope that it'll be like a school is supposed to be, for the second time in my life.

    What did you dislike about it?

    The lack of quality and of a serious approach. The whole thing was about memorising something and feeding it back to my teachers in exams. When, at uni, my teachers tried to break that vicious cycle, my peers, having lived in it for their entire K12 education, did not allow them to do so. We were grade schoolers at a uni.

    What were the most important things that you learned?

    Being an independent learner. The school taught that to me by failing to teach me anything. And when, in my last teens, I decided to learn somethings, I had to learn how to learn, and I did that. Luckily, I had learned English back at the private school, so I had all the internet for me.

    I think this is the single best thing I ever learned. Given enough time, I can learn anything. I can find stuff from the deepest holes of internet. I can utilise all sorts of material, from research papers to StackExchange to man pages.

    What would you change about education if you had the power?

    Not only in Turkey but in general, I think exams need to be removed from all education. Gradation, grades, all that shit. Make it into a learning experience, without set classes, without passing exams or assigning points and stuff. Instead, provide certifications for many topics, both scholarly and vocational. Spot vocationally-oriented kids that won't succeed academically and direct them towards more vocational stuff. But allow them to decide to return to their studies, and work towards certifications.

    Teach them reading. If you can read Turkish, this article by Sevan Nişanyan is great. Being able to decipher alphabet and pronounce written text is not reading. Today, the main skill everybody should be taught w/o exceptions is critical reading, how to approach a text (written or "aural", i.e. speech), how to dissect and understand it, how to make sense of it, how to reason about it, how to cross check it. There simply is not anything more valuable than that.

    So this would be the goal of education: teach kids to be sociable, to participate in debates, and to read. Allow them to learn about anything, and when they decide they want that particular life skill, be it maths or fixing cars, allow them to study, learn, and earn meaningful certificates for it. Allow them to change their decisions---and not only kids, but anybody, have education institutions for different age groups for example. Allow people to create their unique skill set, and prove it reliably. Remove stress from the process of certification. Support people financially if they need it when switching careers. Make universities into proper research institutions, where things like GPA or GRE or GMAT or other nonsense mean nothing. Remove undergrad, only have graduate-style education, i.e. preparation for research and proper research. To enter, the candidate presents their skill set, and their selves. If they can do the research, or if they can help with teaching, then let them join.

    In sum, make the school into a school, not the bureaucratic cesspool it is in most of the planet. Allow personalisation. Allow failure, and allow recovery. Don't force uninterested individuals into learning because they will hinder others' experience. Instead, make school available to everybody, no age restrictions, so that people can come back to it when a decade later they find out their true interests.

    If you could go back and re-do things knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?

    I'd become my dad and beat the fucking shit out of me for leaving that private school.

    But, on a more serious note, I have to confess this, I don't really feel remorse towards my messed up years as a student. That is because I am happy with what I ended up becoming, and I know my failures and the troubles helped for me into who I am. But still, I'd love to not have had to go through all that, and have lived in a more supportive environment. I became what I did despite all this, and it involved lots of luck and perseverence, so this shouldn't be the default.

    3 votes
  5. krg
    Link
    I was "gifted" and placed in an appropriate program in gradeschool which was FANTASTIC. It really emphasized creativity and independent thought. My middleschool through highschool years were less...

    I was "gifted" and placed in an appropriate program in gradeschool which was FANTASTIC. It really emphasized creativity and independent thought. My middleschool through highschool years were less fulfilling, though. The work was mostly easy but I was also used to not having to out effort towards my educational goals. One example: I don't think I ever scored less than a 95% on highschool biology tests, but I rarely did the homework, which ultimately earned me a C in the class. I was (and still kind of am) the "lazy smart" archetype. Which was all well and good until I ran into actually challenging work in college which I was not prepared to deal with. My poor work ethic really messed me up and when I ran into hard problems I was easily discouraged.

    I squandered my formal education not too long after entering college*. I'm not that upset about it, and I put it on me for not living up to my ability. And I feel I can pursue intellectual pursuits I'm interested in without academia in this day and age, so it's not a total wash. I would like to get a degree if only for my mother's sake, though..

    I guess, as an educator, I think the best thing you can do is instill a good work ethic in your students, regardless of their apparent innate talents.

    *the actual story spans more years of attempting other major, going back to initial major, transferring out, and dropping out once more (for reasons pertaining to my first 'drop out'), but .. it's a tad complicated.

    3 votes
  6. [4]
    mrbig
    Link
    Not that good. With the exception of some private schools, education in Brazil usually means way too many classes, lots of memorization and no extracurricular activities. ADHD didn't help....

    Not that good. With the exception of some private schools, education in Brazil usually means way too many classes, lots of memorization and no extracurricular activities. ADHD didn't help. Attending classes was excruciatingly painful.

    3 votes
    1. [3]
      kfwyre
      Link Parent
      I asked in another thread as well, but would you be willing to share more about your experiences with ADHD? Those are some of the hardest students for me to reach, as I often feel powerless to...

      I asked in another thread as well, but would you be willing to share more about your experiences with ADHD? Those are some of the hardest students for me to reach, as I often feel powerless to help them. If you're not comfortable expanding on that, no worries.

      1. mrbig
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        That's no problem at all. I was diagnosed as an adult, and a lot of things made sense in retrospect. I was always considered a lazy student, and this caused a lot of pain because I really tried. I...

        That's no problem at all. I was diagnosed as an adult, and a lot of things made sense in retrospect. I was always considered a lazy student, and this caused a lot of pain because I really tried. I actually liked math but was unable to get good grades because, no matter how hard I studied, I alwas made stupid mistakes. Long exams were also hard. Sitting through classes was like hell on Earth. I was convinced classes were invented by the Spanish Inquisition. SO MINBLOWINGLY BORING. I developed ticks and odd behaviors to stimulate myself. I counted the number of tiles on the floor and moved my nose back and forth in the desk. Sometimes I was able to sleep, which was great. It didn't take long for my classmates to notice it. They called me with the Portuguese version of "cray cray" or something like that. It was not pleasant. I failed two years. When I got to high school, I was convinced I would never learn anything too hard. That's the main reason I didn't go to philosophy for college: I didn't think I'd be able to understand anything. Which was not totally unreasonable for a guy who could never finish a book. So I studied film, and you know what? I was damn good at that. Probably the best student of my generation in the entire film department. Turns out that having great imagination is quite useful for art. But I could never get over the fact that this was not my first choice. And making money with film is not easy around here. So, years after being diagnosed, I decided to change careers. Philosophy was still not an option: I need money in the short term. But computer science is basically the baby math had with logic. And the branches of philosophy I like are the ones that use logic the most. So I'm studying software engineering now, and very happy with my choice. Five to ten years from now, I intend to pursue a masters that include my CS background and interest in philosophy. Let's see.

        2 votes
      2. mrbig
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I don't know if I can help you with good suggestions to help your students. I think anything that works with regular bored students should work with an ADHD one. But they must be treated. I'm not...

        I don't know if I can help you with good suggestions to help your students. I think anything that works with regular bored students should work with an ADHD one. But they must be treated. I'm not a doctor, but I personally don't believe in any ADHD treatment that doesn't include medication. So I'll say this: if you see any student showing ADHD traits, talk to the parents and refer them to a doctor you trust. And I mean a medical doctor: psychiatrist or neurologist, preferably a specialist in the condition and age of the student. This means no psychologists, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, etc. If you don't know such a doctor, then find one. I honestly don’t think a teacher can do much for a non medicated ADHD kid besides making sure to not belittle them and being tolerant with their odd behaviors.

        1 vote
  7. [6]
    hamstergeddon
    Link
    Elementary, Middle, and High were rocky. I have ADHD and while I was medicated I didn't really understand what it all meant. I didn't really grasp WHY I was so good at things that interested me,...

    Elementary, Middle, and High were rocky. I have ADHD and while I was medicated I didn't really understand what it all meant. I didn't really grasp WHY I was so good at things that interested me, but couldn't be bothered to put any effort into the other things. I graduated a C student and (stupidly) assumed that meant I couldn't get into a "real" college. So I opted for Community College. I aced courses I cared about (programming), failed a few I didn't (math), and C'd my way through the rest. I ended up just jumping right into my career as a web developer and never bothered to graduate. I don't really see a reason to since I'm sitting on a decade of experience and I've never had any trouble getting a job in my field.

    In college I didn't really learn a whole lot, it was mostly just an excuse to socialize and network. That aspect of it paid off because all jobs but my current one were acquired via connections made in school. My current job, by far the best I've ever had, was entirely my own doing, so I'm pretty proud of that (though still thankful for those college connections, of course).

    In the past few years I've given my ADHD more attention, learned how to handle it (with medication, but also practical skills for coping). I really wish I'd done that sooner because maybe I'd have finished community college and gotten a 4 year degree. I've got a little bit of an inferiority complex about not doing that. Practically there's no need for me to get a degree, but I'll always feel like people will assume I'm dumb for not having gotten one.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      botanrice
      Link Parent
      I can't speak from experience but man, don't let yourself think that people will think you're dumb just because you didn't get a piece of paper. Plenty of people in tech didn't get that...

      I can't speak from experience but man, don't let yourself think that people will think you're dumb just because you didn't get a piece of paper. Plenty of people in tech didn't get that certificate saying they paid a bunch of money to get some knowledge. You learned that all through experience and worked your way up. In some ways, that is more valuable and impressive than going to a decent uni and getting a job partially due to that. In my eyes you aren't dumb for that.

      2 votes
    2. [3]
      kfwyre
      Link Parent
      I'm reminded of Oprah, believe it or not. She went to college and, before graduation, was offered a job as a news anchor. She declined, wanting to finish her degree first, but one of her...

      I'm reminded of Oprah, believe it or not. She went to college and, before graduation, was offered a job as a news anchor. She declined, wanting to finish her degree first, but one of her professors basically told her that the whole point of graduating would be to get a job offer like that. She just happened to be talented enough and lucky enough to get the job lined up first! So, she took the offer, didn't graduate, and has done incredibly well for herself. While a degree can be worthwhile, it is absolutely not a necessity. If you are living the life you want to live, don't let someone tell you it needs a piece of paper to be complete!

      On a different note, if you're willing to share, I would greatly appreciate being able to hear more about your experiences with ADHD. I have a lot of students with ADHD, and while most of them have it under control, every year there are one or two for whom I feel bad because it's clear that they're not the ones driving their own bus. I can't imagine what it must be to live with that level of distractability and impulsivity, and I also feel powerless to help them, as the strategies and solutions I've looked up seem to be little more than band-aids. What were your experiences like? What strategies work for you? What would you recommend I try with students with severe ADHD?

      And of course, if you are not comfortable sharing any of that, please do not feel obligated!

      1. botanrice
        Link Parent
        I've got some ADHD myself but didn't realize it / get diagnosed until university. I'd say that I still struggle with it but the first two things that come to mind on answering your questions are...

        I've got some ADHD myself but didn't realize it / get diagnosed until university. I'd say that I still struggle with it but the first two things that come to mind on answering your questions are these:

        • First, small goals and/or challenges. This, to me, is key to feeling successful and making progress. If I set a goal or challenge myself to just complete these 10 problems, then I can take a break or whatever I want for a few minutes, then I am much more inclined to knock out that work than I am to have to face 20+ difficult questions at once.
        • following that, frequent breaks. Both physically and mentally. I'm in the workforce now, so those breaks are reading articles that don't pertain to my work or taking a walk to the bathroom or filling up my water bottle. In Uni it was knocking out 30-60min of work then a quick game, YouTube, music making sesh, etc.

        I'm not sure what age you teach so I can't speak much for younger than that. High school students may benefit from something like what I mentioned - i sure would have back then. Hope that helps in any way, feel free to ask more.

        1 vote
      2. hamstergeddon
        Link Parent
        So my ADHD was diagnosed as ADD in the 90s. Since then they've relabeled it as ADHD-PI (predominantly inattentive), so when I say I've got ADHD, that's what I mean. I outgrew being a hyper kid,...

        So my ADHD was diagnosed as ADD in the 90s. Since then they've relabeled it as ADHD-PI (predominantly inattentive), so when I say I've got ADHD, that's what I mean. I outgrew being a hyper kid, but the difficulties focusing, terrible working memory, etc. followed me into my 30s. I think what's important for kids with ADHD is that having ADHD is okay. It doesn't make them broken, defective, or any less able to excel at life. Growing up it was viewed as this super negative thing and my brother (who has the more hyperactive kind) and I both had to deal with a lot of snide "did you take your meds?!" remarks every time we acted up. The ADHD was never viewed in a positive light and it left us feeling like fuck ups sometimes. It led to both of us swearing off our medication at different points in our lives because we didn't want the negative attachment. I went through the entirety of my 20s unmedicated because of that! So in retrospect, I think a lot more discussion about what ADHD was, what it meant for me, what the positives are, etc. would've helped me out a lot. If those kinds of discussions had taken place, I wouldn't have given up on treatment like I did.

        When I turned 30 I started to wonder how much more difficult life had been over the past 10 years because I was ignoring the ADHD. So I started to research ways to deal with it and eventually got myself rediagnosed so I could be medicated again. I also started to see a therapist who has been helping me develop techniques. The ADHD subreddit has been really helpful because it's allowed me to recognize what flaws, strengths, personality quirks, etc. were because of the ADHD. With that knowledge it became a lot easier to sift through it all and figure out how to take some pride in the upsides of the condition while addressing the downsides. It also helped me realize that my accomplishments while on the medication were my own. The medication just levels the playing field so I'm no longer at a continual disadvantage in some areas. My meds are no different from my glasses in that they help me overcome a disadvantage.

        Here's just a random list of things I struggle with:

        • I really struggle with remembering dates, appointments, etc. so I make a lot of use of my work calendar to remember everything from work meetings to doctor appointments (and LOTS of reminders on my phone!).
        • I tend to get really excited about a new hobby or project, pour EVERYTHING into it for a few hours or a day then lose all interest in it. I haven't figured out a solution for this yet. It's not really the worst problem because it's usually little programming projects so it's just time that's "wasted". Still, I'd like to have a projects folder on my computer that isn't full of half-built websites, apps, etc.
        • A lot of details go in one ear and out the other, which is a huge problem for me. I have to remind my wife that, yes, I was listening, but no, I don't remember 80% of what you said yesterday because that is not how my memory works. It's an even worse problem at work, but fortunately there's a lot of documentation for projects that I can reference as many times as needed. So note-taking is really key to this problem.
        • I struggle a lot in the mornings when I need to start working. It takes an absolute insane amount of willpower for me to start working on something, but once I do I'm usually fine sticking with it. Sometimes the bigger problem is prying myself away from something, which leaves me completely exhausted. I struggle with both starting and stopping sometimes, it's weird.
        • I'm really bad at trying to multitask way too much at a time. For example, say I have a task with 5 non-concurrent steps. I'll try to do a piece of all 5 at once and jump around until everything's a mess and the task goes unfinished.
        • For some reason I'm responsible for paying the bills and I forget to do it constantly. We got 3 months behind on a car payment once because I kept forgetting to pay it. We had the money, I just kept forgetting to drop the check off at the bank or let my wife know. I started to use a Bullet Journal last year and that has helped a lot.

        What really sucks about ADHD is all of those things are things everyone struggles with from time to time. So some people assume ADHD is bullshit. But what they don't realize is that it's a constant, 100% of the time thing for people with ADHD. It's like how everyone gets depressed or anxious sometimes, but people with anxiety/depression experience it routinely and can't snap out of it.

        Also another big perk of ADHD is that if I'm interested in something, I have ZERO trouble focusing. I had no problem writing this novelette of a comment, but good luck getting me to sit down and write an essay in school!

        If you have any specific questions, don't hesitate to ask. I'm all about destigmatizing mental health, so I'm pretty open about my own.

        1 vote
  8. [4]
    Guyon
    Link
    Private Christian education preschool-12th, private Christian university 4 years. I'll focus more on my pre-12 experience. I don't think I ever had a class with more than 15 people in it. I...

    Private Christian education preschool-12th, private Christian university 4 years. I'll focus more on my pre-12 experience.

    I don't think I ever had a class with more than 15 people in it. I graduated in a class of 11 people. I loved how you would get to intimately know everyone in the school. It was like a family. If someone had a family die, for example, we felt it as one.

    There was the "Christian bubble" thing going on, but not to a huge degree. We were influenced by so many other sources than just school that we still became cultured. Even in the early internet days, this was inevitable. This really came down to the individual, and how each student's parents had them live outside of school. People came and went. Typically the "lifers" stayed out of trouble and went on to higher education.

    We had a dress code that gradually got more lax over time. Some people made a big fuss over it, but I felt pretty indifferent about the whole thing.

    Overall, I really enjoyed it. I'm really glad/thankful my parents put my through it. I actually keep up with more people from high school than I do university.

    As for what I'd change, I'm at a bit of a loss. I suppose it would be nice if by some paradox our teachers were paid more without tuition rising.

    I'm definitely open to answering questions about my education, as I understand it was a relatively uncommon approach.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      ras
      Link Parent
      I went to a private Catholic school K-8 and then a private non-denominational high school. My elementary experience was suprisingly secular. We had occasional masses and whatnot, but I wasn't...

      I went to a private Catholic school K-8 and then a private non-denominational high school. My elementary experience was suprisingly secular. We had occasional masses and whatnot, but I wasn't Catholic and don't remember much about any of that.

      One of my favorite things about private school was that the teachers had more leeway to allow for creativity in making their lesson plans. When I'd compare what I was doing to what my friends in public school were doing, I always felt a little sorry for how they described their experience.

      Now as a parent with kids in public school I get to see how much of a machine public education is. We're in a great district, but the teachers make almost nothing, work crazy hours, while administrators and board office employees are raking it in.

      3 votes
      1. kfwyre
        Link Parent
        Yup. It's heartbreaking. I've been a teacher for a little over ten years now, and I don't have very much drive left in me. The machine takes everything from you and gives nothing back. I will...

        Now as a parent with kids in public school I get to see how much of a machine public education is. We're in a great district, but the teachers make almost nothing, work crazy hours, while administrators and board office employees are raking it in.

        Yup. It's heartbreaking.

        I've been a teacher for a little over ten years now, and I don't have very much drive left in me. The machine takes everything from you and gives nothing back. I will probably leave the career within the next five years, and I made it longer than most others I started with! My social circles are filled with ex-teachers who have been ground up and spit out by a broken, toxic system.

        I got into teaching because I genuinely loved it, but I can hardly recognize that person anymore. He feels lifetimes away. Instead I feel like a shell of a person--hollow and haunted. I hate going into work most days. I hate taking it home even more.

        2 votes
    2. hamstergeddon
      Link Parent
      Went to the same kind of schools K-12 myself. My graduating class was the largest in the school's history and we only had like 20 people. Unfortunately we had to wear uniforms, but we did have a...

      Went to the same kind of schools K-12 myself. My graduating class was the largest in the school's history and we only had like 20 people. Unfortunately we had to wear uniforms, but we did have a few "Non-Uniform Dress Days" (NUDDs or "nudes" as students called them) where we could dress casually. IIRC, the teachers said we really acted out on those days. It was just such a nice change of pace that it made the entire day feel super casual and we got to show off our regular clothes for once. Girls couldn't dye their hairs unnatural colors, boys couldn't have facial hair. We had to wear a blazer and tie on chapel days (held in a barely air-conditioned former barn-turned-sanctuary, I might add).

      It sounds awful as I type it out, but it was all I knew growing up. I don't necessarily hate that I was sent to a Christian school growing up, but I wish I'd been more interested in public school. Because my parents would've let me, but I was afraid of it because all I'd ever known was Christian school.

      2 votes
  9. mftrhu
    (edited )
    Link
    I liked university, when I finally got around to it, and it was good while it lasted. People wanted to be there, we had mostly competent teachers, and even dense subjects were understandable....
    • What did you like about school?
    • What did you dislike about it?
    • What were the most important things that you learned?

    I liked university, when I finally got around to it, and it was good while it lasted. People wanted to be there, we had mostly competent teachers, and even dense subjects were understandable.

    Everything leading up to that point? I was a gifted child, and I was a gifted child in a <5k people town. I stopped studying at some point back in elementary school, and kept on being at the top of my class despite coasting through high school.

    I basically didn't attend middle school. Not because I didn't want to, nor because I was ill or anything - I kept waking up at 7, entering the school building, and then I would get promptly pulled out of class by my teachers to work on some of their side projects. When I objected, saying that I was losing too many lessons, I was told that "you are smart, you'll be able to recover quickly".

    I hated that.

    High school wasn't very fun, either. I only stopped getting bullied after I jumped on one of the bullies after he pushed me - my brother was in a coma and I was close to breaking. They "took pity" on me after he died, and mostly left me alone after that.

    My teachers were, with rare exceptions, incompetent. My classmates were just there because high school was compulsory. My time there was wasted - I learned more about math in a single semester of university than four years of high school.

    • If you could go back and re-do things knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?

    My parents actually wanted me to skip a year and graduate at 16, but I had made one or two friends in my old class and refused. I eventually ended up getting into university at 17, but, had I known how things would turn out, I would have taken up on my parent's offer.

    Hell, I would have skipped high school entirely and sought a tutor. I would have also asked my parents to rent a room near my university, instead of spending two hours a day traveling on top of being the secondary caregiver for my bedridden grandmother.

    I would have transitioned sooner.

    • What would you change about education if you had the power?

    I would get rid of those teachers who are just there to get a paycheck, and hire people who are actually competent or interested in teaching. A larger paycheck wouldn't hurt.

    I would add LGBT-inclusive sex ed to the curriculum - but hell, I'd settle for any sex ed at all - and drop religion. We don't need an hour of religion a week, not when it ends up being Catechism 2.0, and home economics/sex ed/civic education would be in any case far more useful.

    Edit: tense.

    1 vote
  10. alyaza
    Link
    it's been a clusterfuck, for the most part. i went to elementary school until second grade (during which i skipped a grade because i was apparently outdoing the curriculum or something like that)...

    it's been a clusterfuck, for the most part. i went to elementary school until second grade (during which i skipped a grade because i was apparently outdoing the curriculum or something like that) but, this being a time where absolutely nobody in the public school system knew how the fuck to deal with autism, my experience was shit and i spent most days in the principal's office because of that. at some point they got tired of dealing with me and i got half-day schedule just so i wouldn't constantly have meltdowns because nobody was ever really clear with me on what to do and i could never understand what was going on or why we needed to do things and so on.

    my parents eventually got jaded enough with the school system and its absolute inability to handle any form of disability that they pulled me out of school, and so i was homeschooled mixed in with online schooling and a once-a-week school program until about seventh grade. that was alright, i suppose, but it got upended when i was pulled into foster care and had to attend one last year of middle school at 14. middle school was boring as shit, and i ended up spending about a quarter of the year in classes that i was grossly over-qualified for because they had no idea where to really place me, so that was somewhat irritating. i probably lucked out, because my birthday is near to the cutoff where they'd have sent me to 7th grade instead of 8th, and i genuinely think i'd have fucking died if they made me take two years of middle school (especially since i only spent a year in foster care).

    i got sent to an early college for my high school, and that was nice because it meant i graduated with an associate's degree by the time i was through with my four years there. i blew through my necessary high school credits in like a year, so i've pretty much been taking nothing but college classes for the past three and change years at this point. gotta say, that is so, so much better than high school. my high school classes sucked, and i find even my worst college clases way more emotionally, socially, and educationally liberating than any high school class i was ever obligated to take. if you made me take high school classes at this point, i also think i'd fucking die. i have no idea how i ever survived the one semester where i had to wake up at 6am to catch a 7am bus to take take six high school classes, 8am to 3:15pm and do all the homework associated with that.

    right now i'm about halfway to finishing off my bachelors, and then i'll probably stop because i have no money and scholarships are really the only reason i can attend college. all i can say is that it's nice to have free time and actual fucking weekends. i swear to god my two semesters so far at an actual college and not just a community college mixed in with on-campus high school classes have been the first time in like six years where i feel like i have actual weekend time. i genuinely dread when i have to get a fucking job, lol.

    also, college classes are an order of magnitude more interesting than literally anything in high school--thank god for being able to self-select for classes instead of having some asshole hand them down to you with no input on your part.

    TL;DR: it's been a mess, mostly boring, and i wouldn't really recommend my path (other than the early college thing) to anybody, because it's probably not been especially conducive to good habit formation or my ability to learn. i think i'm lucky more than anything that i have come out of this not an absolute trainwreck, lol.

    1 vote