Hi School, Bye School

Middle school and high school- places of fond memories or forgotten sorrows?

Everyone remembers endless days spent in classrooms, never ending memorization of what we considered to be nonsensical facts and answering to teachers.

Oh yes, days I wish I would never have to go back to! Fortunately, I am near the end of my formal education- and I think that now I can share some insights with you about those years that everyone has to pass through.

Years when we hung out with our friends worried if were good enough for them, years when we were under extreme pressure to succeed and have good grades, years when we thought that teachers knew everything…

I remember being in middle school when my worries about grades were filling my mind and in order to escape them I would daydream about Summer holidays. In fact, when school was nearly over (when 50 working days until the end were near), I used to make a small calendar in which I crossed every day that passed. In that way I could measure how much I have already „survived“.

I had so many activities apart from the school- ranging from learning languages to playing tennis and piano. Actually, sometimes only free time I had while I was in the middle school were those 5 minutes just before falling asleep.

Near the end of middle school I started to think over about my high school admissions and how would days in that new institution look like. I was sad to leave my old friends, but was really curious to find out what my new friendships would be.

In that search of my ideal clique I changed a couple of high schools. On the on hand I wanted to attend same classes as my old friends, but on the other hand I wanted to meet entirely new colleges.

Finally combination of bad influence and failing grades made me change high school 2 years before its end. Although it was really stressful to have changed classes in the middle of school, it was a positive change 🙂

Learning from my experience- my advice to everyone in middle school or high school is: choose your friends wisely, take care of yourself (don’t drink, smoke or go out too much), study, have fun and try not to stress too much over small stuff.

We Learn For School And Not For Life

Non per scholae sed vitae discimus or in other words we don’t study for school, but for life.

How true is really this statement? I finished high school 9 years ago, have been since then in the institutions of higher education and I must admit that school doesn’t prepare you well for the realities of  everyday life. What we mostly do in school these days is memorizing endless material.

We don’t get encouraged to use our creativity and if we differ in any way from the norm, we often get criticized. I was a gifted student and because no one in high school recognized my talents, I struggled a lot with school. I was way ahead of my colleagues in the terms of knowledge, but I was somehow always getting bad grades- I just could not learn all that given data by heart and present it to teachers. We also don’t learn how to follow directions, but instead we learn how to pretend that we agree with our teachers.

Skills as how to find a job in this economy or how to start a job, what career do we want to pursue or how to manage taxes are not being taught at most institutions. I didn’t even know what a cover letter was when I was looking for a job during high school, let alone how to write it.

Apart from that, I suffered from low self esteem years after high school because I was always given bad grades. I felt enormous anxiety when I would have to speak or answer teachers’ questions in front of the class. I would also compare myself to other more successful students and beat myself down for not having achieved the same „success“.

In Croatia, every couple of years we hear that our educational system will be reformed, but from my opinion no one knows which ideas to implement.

Therefore, education still stands as one big experiment and all I can say to new generations is- you’ll survive, just like we did.

You Can Do The Math

In my country, these days are starting entrance exams for universities.

In those, among many subjects, students often have to pass math. Since I don’t have fond memories of my math classes and exams, I feel deeply sorry for them.

Math was always my weakest point throughout my educational endeavours. I was good in it in elementary school when we had really good teacher who explained it in, to us young students and kids, understandable manner. On contrary, high school years became my worst nightmare regarding addition, subtraction and all that stuff.

I actually could not find a way how to become good in math- did my performance stem from not practicing it enough or my little brain could not grasp its concepts.

Math was also a big problem for most of my classmates, so I soon came to conclusion that it is just difficult. Probably if it was explained thruogh some real life examples we could connect it with something familiar and it would become easier.

Unfortunately, none of our teachers could do it, they could not explain teaching material well. I also think that some students are better with words, some with art and some with biology and science. I am surely not in the math appreciation club 🙂

In many school systems grades depend on how teacher percieves your effort or in other words how he likes you. In regards to that I have one memorable experience with my high school teacher- I was writing a final exam for a higher grade and although I didn’t obtain enough score for it, my teacher said I deserve a better grade and gave a C to me 🙂

Sometimes, math is difficult, but being hard working and nice also pays off.

Learning Is For Life

Back in elementary school, when I was around 9 or 10 years old, my teacher called my name in the classroom and told in front of everyone that I am the most hard working person among them. At that time, just in the moment of my teacher´s recognition, I felt awkward as I didn´t want to be in the sole centre of attention. But the revelation and acknowledgment of someone older and experienced came as a nice compliment.

I showed great dedication, interest and self discipline from young age. Were it only my character traits, or my parents had they role in my education?

I think both of the aforementioned facts share its relevance. My parents always encouraged me to learn, to observe and to pay attention to the world around me. They played games with me, taught me how to read, they signed me for countless activities. I played tennis, learned Spanish and German, played piano…

It all shaped me as a person- through my activities I learned the power of knowledge and became self sufficient. I learned to strive for better and put lots of effort in achieving my goals. In my family, my mother was always helping my brother and sister in studying and preparing for school, yet she didn´t have to do the same with me.

Although I sometimes felt overwhelmed from all the pressure and demand that came hand in hand with my strict school, I took my obligations seriously. My days were always beginning with studying and at the end of the day, not so late in the night, it would only take me a few minutes to fall asleep.

When the end of the school year would be approaching, I would make a calendar and cross each day which passed- I was counting days until Summer.

Learning and working habits are behaviours which require lots of conscious effort and sacrifice, therefore some never form them. Families which provide encouragement and which place high value on education will more likely spike same interests in their offspring.

Luckily, I came from one of those families and despite having had some struggles, I am on a continuos path of studying, improvement and gaining more and more knowledge.

Because that is the best path, I can assure you.

Playing School Is Not What Teaching Profession Looks Like

I always knew I wouldn´t become a teacher in this life.

Teaching profession is one of the oldest and most noble professions since old ages.

Being a teacher is hard work- I don´t know it from personal experience, apart from playing school at around age 12, but having spent most of my life in a classroom, I feel qualified to conclude it from student´s perspective.

Why teaching is so hard and why not everybody is meant to do it career wise?

Spending time in school also known as 12 tough years of studying, respecting authority figures, sticking to schedules and being stuck in a classroom with people who you at least don’t find interesting- is something not many of us would like to repeat. 

As a teacher you would have to do it over and over for the next 40 years, 5 days in a week. You would never be done with homework or with exams or with going to- school again. Imagine spending a couple of hours a day trying to speak and convey your knowledge to 30 people who are doing everything else but paying attention to you.

As a teacher you have to be interesting, smart, fair, you have to have understanding and you have to know how to reach people who are years, if not decades younger than you. Youngsters often don´t appreciate how important are the lessons you are trying to teach them, which is understandable because their brains are still developing and of course because they haven´t got enough life experience. 

It is also much easier task to learn facts and information then to explain it to someone who is not of the same educational level or background as you are.

Good teacher knows how to recognise potential and how to encourage it.

Truth to be told, education is something of great importance, but government, students and sometimes even teachers don´t realise how much impact it has.

Teachers train are future generations, so they have to take their job seriously, I could´t bear that much responsibility so I must admit- I am happy that I am done with my school years, but I will continue educating myself from the foundations those more experienced instructed me. And I am thankful for that.