I Know Hate Is A Strong Word, But….

Strong words often generate strong reactions such as this line from a Wayne Watson song. ” Sticks and stones can break my bones,lies  can break my heart, before you fire your poison tongue, contemplate the scar.” Those lyrics came from a song he did years ago that talked about the destructive power of speech. I  trust that my title will not have that kind of impact, for the allusion is not to a person, but rather a thing.

My feelings of antipathy are for the public school system, not in an overall  sense, but rather for my experiences as a public school student and how I fit or rather didn’t fit.

These feelings wandered back to my thoughts when I read a brief book review on a  book entitled Why Don’t Students Like School by psychology professor Daniel Willingham. Dr Willimgham has been at the University of Virginia sice 1992.  Willingham says he in his book content is more important than “learning strategies” . This next part is what got my attention. Kids get bored because teachers don’t know enough about the line between a mind that has too little stimulation and one  that is overwhelmed. That started me thinking, was I one of those and   was that the reason I struggled so much.

Although, that may have been a factor, I’m inclined to think my shortcomings in the area of social interaction were the biggest issue for me. Again, I just didn’t fit. How does a teacher get  a child to fit? I really don’t know. There were some teachers in my early years that I remember positively, more so in the early years, say, grades 1-4. After those years, the positive feelings that I remember became less and less until college, of all things. When I arrived at Rockingham Community College as a freshman, it was as if a light came back on. I liked college there and even more so at Appalachian State. My grades  were pretty good but they had been pretty good in public school. When I made it to college, it was if the pressure was off and I could be myself, whatever that was, and no one minded .

Perhaps, it went from being required to go to having an option. Being exposed to different types of people with different backgrounds helped as well. So, those who are afflicted with an antipathy toward school from days gone by, it’s ok. Skip those class reunions if you want, don’t wax nostalgic and most importantly, try to dismiss the junk with which you put up as I am doing. It by no means must define you anymore.

One picture as a close. My very frist school was Burton Grove Elementary in Leaksville, NC (now Eden) Although no longer a school, it still remains the place where it all began.

Burton Grove Elementary School(flickr.com)

Burton Grove Elementary School(flickr.com)

The caption perhaps tells it all of a school that once served well, now sits empty and abandoned, shuttered and decaying. Rest in peace, home of the Burton Grove Bulldogs.


June 28, 2009 - Posted by | education, History | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. OK, I have no business asking questions of you, but I am curious, if you don’t mind. (If you do, that’s fine too… it’s your nickel!)

    You said you “hate” the public school system. Did you say “public” as opposed to “private” or “parochial” or are you really getting at the typical K-12 education system? It can be that private schools reach kids that can’t be reached that well in the public school system, because private schools sometimes aim for a “niche” market of simiar kids, so the school and the staff is designed to handle that kind of kid. The public school system has to try to be all things to all people, which is a daunting task.

    The one thing that almost all private schools have over public schools is class size, so remember that the next time you hear a teacher say they need more money for more teachers, to lower class sizes. Smaller classes almost always show higher levels of achievement, across the board. When teachers are given classes of 30 students, there’s just no way to give more individualized attention like they could in a class of 15… simple math!

    The other thing I picked up on in reading your post is that you seem to be unhappiest abut your experience during middle school and high school. That’s not all that uncommon, once a whole bunch of kid hit their teen years, which can be brutal. And secondary teachers are probably the least equipped to handle social issues; there’s usually never enough time and they’re too busy trying to teach the content of their class. The nurturing types tend to be elementary teachers, and kids usually spend most of their day with one teacher, which helps the process. Once you get to high school, you’ve got six or seven different teachers that you spend 50 minutes with per day…. not nearly as much opportunity to connect on a personal level.

    And there are some significant differences once you get to college:

    You PAY to go to class, so you tend to be a bit more motivated.

    For the first time ever, for the most part, you get to take the courses that actually INTEREST you.

    And when kids get to the colege level, they’re often a lot more comfortable in their own skin by then. Kids mature at a different rates, and those differences are exacerbated in middle and high school, but they tend to even out by the early 20s.

    Wow. Talk about “waxing nostalgic”. Sorry to run on so long!

    Comment by larrys | June 28, 2009 | Reply

    • It was public school, grades 1-12 ,since I am so ancient there was no public kindergarten in my day. You are on the money about the nurturing aspect as well. I had 2or 3 teachers who fit that bill quite well. One other factor, I probably entered 1st grade sooner than than I should have. Might have helped with the social graces-lol .

      Comment by Tarheeltalker | June 29, 2009 | Reply

      • Yeah, that will make a difference, especially in those teen years. We had half-day kindergarten back when, but I was ony 17 when I graduated from HS myself.

        Once a kid gets to HS, the hope/wish is that they’ll connect with at least one of their teachers every year. Sadly, a lot of kids fall between the cracks and just slide through without really making any connection for all four years. Most schools are trying various options to try to minimize that possibiity, however.

        Comment by larrys | June 29, 2009

  2. The picture of Burton Grove Elementary School reminds me of the “when the people are gone” show on the history ch.! I don’t feel that schools to day are anyways like the Elementary schools of the past. I went to Old Dock Elementary school and yes I had soon of the same feeling as you do! I loved school up until about the seven grade! Good post.

    Comment by goodtimepolitics | June 29, 2009 | Reply

    • I had not seen that old school since the early 90’s. It is kinda sad to see them fall by the wayside. Maybe they can get some stimulus $ to fix it up-Ha!

      Comment by Tarheeltalker | June 29, 2009 | Reply


    Comment by cole! | July 3, 2009 | Reply

  4. This brought back so many memories of the Burton Grove School. I don’t ever go by the school so I don’t know how badly it looks now. Need to go by one day and take a picture and forward it to you.

    Comment by teddy bear sis | July 3, 2009 | Reply

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