Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Public School Journey.......

I know there are many others out there who, like me, made a complete schizophrenic, bipolar mess of their public education as a child/adolescent.  I have often reflected on my twelve year journey.  Frankly, after going through that emotional roller coaster that involved not only readin', writin' and 'rithmetic, but also teenage acne and hormones mixed with liberal doses of rebellion, it's a wonder I can think at all.

But as I have pondered over the years my passage through the alimentary canal known as elementary, middle and high schooling, I have come to realize that much of what I am was formed in those twelve years between ages 5 and 18.  I decided to draw a graph showing my education satisfaction and confidence development over those years, and man---what a trip.  When I look at the psychotic nature of my ride I realize it's no shock I turned out the way I did.  Sigh.

If I were a product of the present, I would have been diagnosed with ADHD and several other current maladies du jour.  But of course, back in the dark ages of the 1950s and '60s, the medical establishment was quite in the dark about these syndromes, so I (fortunately) did not have the questionable benefit of the pharmaceuticals of today used for such afflictions.

You can see by the chart that my journey started off pretty badly.  The first four years in school produced bad grades (in conduct as well as in the subjects studied), any number of whippings at home (my dad preferred a belt, and it was used every 6 weeks when the report cards were delivered), a zero sense of self-worth and a very (un)healthy symptom of acting out which made my parents crazy and resulted in an uncontrollable death spiral.

Then, in the fifth grade God put me under the tutelage of one Mrs Dot Shumake at Golfcrest Elementary school and Oh.  My.  God. 

I never knew such wonderful teaching and leadership.  She was an angel.  My grades excelled. I felt good about my self.  I got no more whippings.  I'll never forget her. 

But in the Seventh grade, I was in a new school---a Jr High, or Middle school---full of bullies and advanced math and teachers you couldn't BS.  I crashed.  Back to the bottom.  Bad self-confidence.  More acting out.  And, of course, my hormones were now a player and that alone is enough to cause bedlam with most teens.  Ha.  I can laugh now but it wasn't funny back then.

Slowly, my level of achievement and satisfaction rose.  Very slowly, my grades rose.  Very slowly, I began to find myself.  But it was an ordeal.  It was probably the most productive part of my "education".  I guess everyone goes through it, but I just didn't handle it very well.  After high school, it probably took another 15 years for me to truly "find" myself and settle down as a grounded and actualized individual, although I know now that no one ever stops growing or changing.  But, those early years were certainly a trip worth remembering and reflecting upon.

I bet every one of you could tell a similar story.


  1. Glad to see you posted a blog and a very good and creative one at that. I will have to do my own chart and see if we "match" in any grades.

  2. Very interesting- and I loved hearing about Mrs. Shumake. God love her- I so wish every child has at least one teacher like her in their lives.

  3. Those memories are part of what makes you today. And, those memories are part of my memories as I can relate this story to your grandson. I love this blog. I laughed at your chart only because I relate to he display of emotions. love it! And, I am with you, the older you get and reflect back on is fun remembering good and bad and what made us be who we are today. Love you dad.