So many look back fondly at their childhood memories of school. They recall friends and good times. I wonder, however, if perhaps they have blocked out something more about school. I wonder, how any one of us would feel, if we were placed back in those same classroom desks today for 7 hours a day. How would we feel? How would we respond?
The following is just some of what I remember of my schooling. I have a feeling that many, if they really think about it, felt the same way much of the time when in school.
Think of the typical school day in the typical classroom.
Remember sitting in that desk. Feel the hard chair and sit up straight!
Remember watching that clock. The clock that was identical in every room.
Remember being bored out of your mind, watching and waiting for the clock to turn. Not allowed to talk, leave, put your head down, or even stand up.
Remember being forced to read books like The Great Gatsby. Remember putting down the books you would rather be reading to collect dust as you spent all free reading time on the required book.
Remember the worksheets for the book with right and wrong answers on how you should have interpreted wheat you read.
Remember the teacher telling you about the symbolism of it and what you should be getting out of it.
Remember the book becoming a giant weight on your shoulders.
God I hated that book.
Remember having to memorize poetry.
Remember having to memorize EVERYTHING.
Remember being forced to write poems.
Remember the teacher telling you the proper way to write them.
Remember your poetry and art receiving a GRADE!
Remember being tested on what the teacher thought you should know.
Remember it being your fault if you didn’t learn something they were teaching.
Remember the feeling of fear and disappointment when you got a bad grade.
Remember feeling judged and your worth based on your grades.
Remember sitting in class realising you don’t understand something that is being taught.
Remember not wanting to raise your hand and ask a question because you don’t want the class or teacher to think you’re stupid or to waste their time.
Remember raising your hand and giving a wrong answer and hearing snickers.
Remember swearing you’ll never raise your hand again.
Remember sitting in class listening to the teacher talk for an hour about something you already knew how to do.
Remember her breaking it down, step-by-step, repeating the basics.
Remember trying to sketch or write in your notebook while the teacher was explaining what you already knew.
Remember having to do so carefully because if the teacher noticed you she would call on you.
Remember being caught daydreaming and asked to come up to the chalkboard to prove that you were paying attention.
Remember not having the freedom to daydream, to think for yourself, to doodle, to write what you wanted.
Remember being hungry and not allowed to eat.
Remember being thirsty and not allowed to drink.
Remember having to ask permission to use the bathroom.
Remember not being allowed to talk to a friend.
Remember not being allowed to use the phone.
Remember not feeling well and being forced to play basketball.
Remember everyone watching to see how many sit-ups, pull-up, and push-ups you could or couldn’t do and how fast or slow you could run.
Remember teams being picked by team captains.
Remember the time you were the last to be picked.
Remember being forced to run a mile.
Remember how all school authority figures assumed the worst out of the students.
Remember being “caught” in the hall without a hall pass and accused of being a delinquent.
Remember being hauled to the office and threatened.
Remember feeling like a PRISONER.
This is what many refer to as a “structured learning environment.” I can only imagine how much more I could have learned in a positive free environment. Instead, I dragged myself through my school years feeling depressed and enslaved every school day. How can we expect our children to love learning and grow into confident adults when we treat them with such little respect? When we treat them like slaves and prisoners and think everything must be forced upon them or they will do nothing worth while?
And for those who still kept their spirits high despite being treated in this manner, is that what our goal is? To be happy and content being without rights and freedoms? To be good, happy little slaves? Sometimes I wonder if that really is the true goal of school…