For the last few months I’ve been thinking more and more about my experiences at school and how to put them aside and get excited for our little man heading to school next year. I quite enjoyed primary and middle school, enjoying the activities, fun teaches and the ability to be myself. But sadly this all ended when I went to secondary school.
I know there will be many who say they disliked school too and it’s just a way of live, I’ve even been told to just get over it. But it was a large chunk of my childhood where I felt lost, unsupported and felt my personality took a beating. Clara on the flip side, loved school, she talks of it with fond memories and excitedly recounts fun experiences she recalls. Which is great, I love that she enjoyed school and I hope she continues to share those stories with our little man as he grows. But sadly I need to work on the bad memories I have that cast a dark shadow on my childhood.
Our education system, whilst I was at school, worked on rewarding those academically minded and not necessarily those who were creative. Creative subjects were seen as Mickey Mouse subjects and the year I chose my GCSE options, sadly one of the subjects I was really interested in, was cut.
I also feel that sadly my experience at secondary school was affected by my teacher’s preference to those within the “popular” crowd. One teacher in particular made it her mission to make me feel every bit the overweight, spotty teen I felt I was. I look back at images of my teens with sadness. I started to gain weight as soon as I started secondary school and sadly puberty caused me many acne issues. I was struggling with un-diagnosed OCD and my sexuality was confusing me. I like to think that schools have support systems in place now, to help those with mental health issues and those who wish to speak in private about their sexuality. In fact I know Stonewall work very hard to help teens feel supported when they start to understand their sexuality.
I guess overall, I just feel let down by the very system that is supposed to prepare us for the rest of our lives. I don’t feel careers advice was very supportive, lessons on money management would have been beneficial and support for those who don’t always stand out, would have been great.
This is by no means a teacher bashing post. I have friends who teach and who wanted to teach. I can fondly recall several teachers from my secondary school who were fantastic and I’d hate to tar them with the same sticky mess of a brush my other teachers were painted with. Teaching is a hard job and I have a huge respect for anyone wishing to pursue a career in it. I think my queries go above and beyond the teachers forced to stick to the curriculum. My gripe lays with those making the bigger decisions, those who manage our education system and made it what I was when I was at school.
Also my experience is mine alone, for every story like mine, there are ten from children who loved every minute of their education. What I guess I am looking for is closure. An acceptance that my journey was exactly that, my path set out for me and my son’s can go whichever way he chooses. For I will never quash his creativity, never tell him he is not good enough and will tell him he always has it inside him to reach for the stars.