Growing up I was always a kid that struggled in school. Starting in middle school I really started having a tough time with my classes. I was the kid that would tell my mom everyday:
“I hate school.”
and she would always reply:
“Jenny, you don’t hate school. Don’t say that.”
What she didn’t understand, and what I didn’t understand at the time, was that it wasn’t “school” that I hated. It wasn’t learning that I hated. It wasn’t classes that I hated. It wasn’t the teachers that I hated, in fact I had some of the best teachers ever. It was the format of regular public school that just didn’t work for me. All kids learn differently. All kids learn better in different environments. I was not the kid that learned well in a 6 hour a day, class to class, typical school day.
I was always the kid that wanted to be doing something artistic. I love to draw, I love to write, I love to paint, I love to act. My mom jokes now and says:
“Who knew that all those notebooks full of doodles that Jenny would draw instead of doing her school work would actually help her in real life.”
THIS IS It. This is what people need to understand. I didn’t need A.P. biology, statistics or chemistry. I DID need A.P. literature and art class. I didn’t need economics or government class. I did need world history and english writing classes. I knew at a very young age what my strengths and weaknesses were. I knew at a very young age that I would never be a doctor or a lawyer. I knew at a very young age that I would use my creativity in a field of work that inspired me and kept me interested, which is what school didn’t do for me.
By senior year of high school I was done. I skipped more days of school than I can even count. Everyone around me was convinced I might not graduate, let alone thrive in college.
“If she can’t function in a high school setting with her parents watching her every move, how is she going to cope with the freedom of a college setting?”
My parents gave me one semester at Georgia Southern to prove that I could do it. Prove that I could go to class. Prove that I could make decent grades. I don’t know if they truly thought I would make it through that first semester or just wanted me the heck out of their house. The funniest thing happened when I transition into a college setting though. I thrived. I loved the freedom of scheduling my classes when I wanted to schedule them. I loved not having to take a class until the next semester if I didn’t want to. I loved taking classes that I was interested in. Yes, you still have to take a lot of B.S. classes in college that are a waste of money and time, but you can take those classes online and not sit for hours in lecture if you don’t want to, or you can mix the boring classes in with the classes you are excited about. I started really teaching myself how to paint, how to watercolor, how to draw. I began a blog and started writing on my OWN, because I WANTED to, not because I had too.
I chose a major I am passionate about.
I can truly say I’m graduating with a degree that I am proud of and that has taught me so much over the past four years. I’ve had professors that can relate to college kids and understand that these are the most stressful, exciting, tiring years of your life. I’ve been given more grace by college professors than I ever would’ve imagined and each one of my upper-level teachers have been impactful to my life in more ways than one.
So public high schools…..
Bring back the shop classes, bring back the art classes, bring back theater and acting classes, bring back the wood-working and welding classes. Maybe that kid that sits in class and doesn’t do anything would build beautiful furniture by hand. Maybe that girl that doesn’t want to go to school, a.k.a. me, would look forward to creative writing classes or art classes. Maybe that depressed 16 year old just needs an outlet to channel their sadness into, like theater.
I know this is ramble-y and a lot of people won’t agree with me, but my bottom line is don’t give up on your kid or student just because they don’t thrive in a typical school setting. It’s not always because they’re lazy or stoners, sometimes it’s because they truly can’t focus in a traditional high school. It’s the same with college, not everyone is meant to be a college student, or wants to be a college student. Some kids want to take time off before college and really think about what they want to do before they commit to all that money and dept. That’s perfectly fine and classes in high school that teach things other than math and science would help them find good jobs when they graduate.
My sister was the complete opposite of me, she loved school and thrived in a high school setting. Every kid is different, and every kid learns differently. I think if we understand that, and gave kids the option to learn differently, we would have a lot more successful people in this world.
And just for fun, here is a picture of me passed out in class senior year. Hey, it was a miracle I was even in attendance which is a win in my book.