Your Schooltime Experiences

Convincing John

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I know this thread is about ninjas, so I don't want to get off topic too much. Maybe another thread can be started about school and our experiences.

I agree with Dr Tooth about how kids feel towards school and I had pretty much the same attitude, experience and even some teachers like Bart's kindergarten teacher. "F, Bart and believe me, you'll be seeing plenty of them." Speaking of the Simpsons, Matt Groening's earlier comic strip featuring rabbits sums it up quite nicely in one particular book I can't type the name of here. It begins "School is..." and you'll see a one-eared rabbit on the front doing a Bart Simpson chalkboard gag...only what the rabbit is writing has a lot more "bite" than what Bart writes. I would highly recommend this book, actually...if you really want to know what school was like for me and apparently a lot of other kids, too.

I can speak about my own cynicism about school in general from both sides of the desk. I clearly remember what it was like to be a student and I was also a teacher for three years. There's a lot I could talk about, but how do I simplify it?

Since this is a Forum about Jim Henson and Henson-related topics in general and since we're discussing education, I'll zero in on a couple of key examples from when I was a kid:

Did you know the macaw doesn't exist? According to my first grade teacher, it's true. I was stayed home from school one day in first grade due to a cold. I watched Mister Rogers' Neighborhood that day and Mister McFeely had a macaw to show Mister Rogers. Yes, a real one. Mr McFeely gave a few facts about it, he fed it something (seeds?) and as they did on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, they made sure to have some lingering close ups of it so little kids could really see it. Here's the proof: episode 1243, folks:

http://www.neighborhoodarchive.com/mrn/episodes/1243/index.html

The next day in school, the class was naming different types of birds for some mural we were making. "Cardinal!" "Robin!" "Canary!" "Ostrich!" "Penguin!" answered the kids. When the teacher called on me, I said "Macaw". The class looked at me like I was crazy and so did the teacher.

"A what?"

"A macaw," I repeated. "it's red, yellow and blue and about this big..." I held my hands about two feet apart.

"Oh, there's no bird like that!" snapped the teacher. The kids around me laughed and looked at me like I was an idiot. Now I know how Big Bird felt when he tried to prove Snuffy existed all those years!

"But...I saw it...it has a long tail and...it talks..." I noticed the set of picture encyclopedias on the far shelf. I was one of the best readers in the class and I knew if I had the "M" volume, I could find that bird easily. "I can show you in the..." I pointed to the books.

"No!" snapped the teacher. "it doesn't exist! Stay in your seat. Now, who can tell me the name of a real bird?"

"Pigeon!" "Chickadee!" "Parakeet!" "Parrot!" the class continued. Several of them looked at me and smirked as though I were an idiot. (Ironically, no one had trouble accepting the parrot as real, but not an "imaginary" type of parrot).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Same grade, different first grade teacher (we rotated between 3 teachers daily), different scenario, and still relating to PBS:

There's something Sesame Street-related that I don't know has ever been discussed on this forum. We talk a lot about Sesame Street (and some Electric Company) clips, but I wondered what kind of research goes behind the typography. It doesn't matter if it's a 3D or 2D letter or number. Sesame Street is researched very heavily (as we know), so I just wondered who (if anyone) decided what the letters and numbers should look like on the show.

Think of the types of fonts we use and read regularly. This is a four:



And this is a four:



So, which one is "right"? We don't think about it much as adults, but when you're a kid and you want to print your letters and numbers right, which source do you trust: Sesame Street or what the teacher says?

Both types of the number four have been simultaneously shown on Sesame Street. The "open top" 4 (like the one above) was displayed above our chalkboard on the traditional green classroom banner, along with the rest of the numbers and the alphabet.

However, the "closed top" 4 was right there on every computer keyboard in the same classroom (and the neighbor's house numbers we could see from the classroom window). The OCR A Extended font gives a perfect example of the four I was taught to write.

There's an old Sesame Street clip about the letter "t", which describes it as "sort of a fish hook with a line through it". The way we wrote a lowercase "t" in grade school had no "fish hook". It just looked like a cross. Was this "fish hook" acceptable in some areas in the 1970's? The clip was relatively new when I was learning to write, so a "t" that looked like a crossed-out, backwards, capital "J" made me go "...what the heck?" Granted, some Sesame Street clips made lots of us go "what the heck?" but they were often nonsensical, "gaint-rabbit-chases-kids" type of stuff. But when a clip specifically says "this letter of the alphabet looks like this" and contradicts examples you know, (and even itself in the same show) that's a whole other type of head scratcher.

There are a couple of other typography examples which confused us in class (or at least me). We were one of the lucky classes that got to watch The Electric Company (1970's version) in school. At that time, we were learning how to make apostrophes, commas and quotation marks. It was all well and good, but I got in trouble for not making mine "right". The apostrophe was "supposed" to be round and curved (like a piece of popcorn shrimp). I made mine like the ones I saw on The Electric Company: a box with a little triangle hanging down. So...which one was right?

Lowercase "g" caused me a huge amount of embarrassment one time in that same class. Anyone remember those stupid worksheets printed with that fuzzy, purple ink you could barely read? Well, we had a "g" lesson one day where we got worksheets with pictures on them and another worksheet with fuzzy, purple, printed 'g's' on it. We were supposed to cut out the 'g's and glue them to the things that started with 'g' in that picture.

Now, we had been taught to write the lowercase letter g that resembled an Arial font: g. However, the company that made the worksheets had Times New Roman g's. Look at these g's side by side: g g.

I lost one of my 'g' cards during the activity and quickly used a scrap of paper and a purple colored pencil to make a replacement before the teacher found out. Instead of making the "Arial" g, I made a Times New Roman g to match the others because I didn't want to get in trouble. Before I could glue it to the picture of the gorilla, the teacher saw it, grabbed it and held it up for the whole class to see.

"IS THIS HOW WE MAKE OUR G'S?" she bellowed to the whole class.

"NO!" the class shouted back.

Then why are they like that on the worksheets, then??? I thought furiously. Furthermore, the "g" I made was a lot more legible than the ones from the ditto machine. What made me the most upset was this: why did the teacher feel the need to humiliate a student, when the student was just trying to correct a mistake?

So, that's just a couple of examples. My experience as a teacher was excruciating. I won't sugar coat that at all. I let my teaching license lapse after 3 years, switched careers and I never looked back. If anyone has any questions, I'll tell those tales in another thread, since this one's technically about kids liking ninja shows. Sorry if I took the thread off topic.
 

Pig'sSaysAdios

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I'll tell those tales in another thread, since this one's technically about kids liking ninja shows. Sorry if I took the thread off topic.
I think you should start a thread about it. I think a lot of people would be able to relate to your experience or share their own personal frustrations about school. I think just about everyone hated at least some aspect of school, no matter how much they enjoyed school.
 

fuzzygobo

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School was 50/50 to me. Half I loved, half I hated. Sometimes they're linked so closely it's hard to separate them.
Both fonts of 4 are correct. Different forms of lower case letters with various hooks and serifs are still correct. Don't let them tell you different.

I still remember in first grade (how and why can I still remember this? This was 1974! Vietnam was still raging, Nixon was still covering up Watergate, and I was kitted out in my polyester duds!)
The teacher had flash cards with words on one side, their opposites on the back.
Opposite of up? Down!
Opposite of near? Far!
Opposite of light? Dark!
I said the opposite of light can also be Heavy.
Teacher said I was wrong, that's not the answer printed on the card.
I protested there's more than one right answer, and called the teacher some form of "stupid lady", earning my first (and certainly not my last) trip to the principal's office.

John Lennon was right. Genius is Pain. 8)
 

Drtooth

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I can speak about my own cynicism about school in general from both sides of the desk. I clearly remember what it was like to be a student and I was also a teacher for three years. There's a lot I could talk about, but how do I simplify it?
You know how everyone whines about the "everyone gets a trophy" thing that like I'm guessing three schools nationwide actually did? I find my experiences to be from the other end of the spectrum. I like to call it, everyone gets a trophy but you. I have very depressing memories of screwing up a popcorn chain in KINDER-FREAKING-GARTEN and getting scolded for it...IN KINDER-SON OF A SNAKE EATING WEASEL TURD-GARTEN. :insatiable:

I'm not going to get into more, since to be honest, some of school was decent, and I did have some teachers I actually liked. But whenever I see one of those commercials or Arthur "and now a Word from Us Kids" that have some cute little 20-something Asian or something perky teacher and think to the various old crones and Ms. Hoover expies I was stuck with? I'm all "what the what?!?!" I know that I was either born too early or too late, but seriously. NONE of my teachers looked, acted like, or sounded like Tania Gunadi from that Target commercial.

I mean, sure. Teaching kids is hard. Kids can be total and utter brats or jerks or scumbags at the worst. You lose your passion and become completely disenfranchised by the kids and the system of mediocrity. There's truth to Edna K's character. Some teachers had legit problems with me and tried to be as nurturing as possible. Some are just high strung, and have odd problems that I can completely forgive.

Just...that *&%^%$in' Kindergarten teacher. Old bat.

But frankly, as many problems as I had in grade school, that was heaven compared to Middle and high School, which I won't talk about. Teachers were the least of my problems. Heck, I liked the teachers there.

But for a positive story... had this one guy in art school I rather liked. With all the professors trying to be the students' friends, there was this one guy that I really thought was a hoot. Looked like a cross between Wallace Shawn and the animator Nimnul from Rescue Rangers was based on. Made a living doing Dungeons and Dragons style board games for Thundercats and He-man and stuff. Didn't give me the greatest grades, but he was fun to have. Only was a teacher for tax purposes, but taught well. Also, lots of great animators were my teachers. One worked on some Aardman stuff. Got a guest teacher one time did the "after these messages...we'll be riiiight back" ABC animations. Not saying I didn't have some teachers I didn't care much for, but these are easily the best of the bunch for me.
 

charlietheowl

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School, like I suspect it was/is for most people, was a mixed bag for me. I had some bad teachers and some great ones. Interestingly, most of the bad teachers seemed to be concentrated in middle school and the good teachers in high school. I don't know if that's because the middle school teachers were so afraid of losing control of their classes that they cracked down on every sort of behavior or if I just drew some short straws when it came to teachers back then. But there were some cranky, angry teachers then, who reacted to any laugh or giggle or bad grade in their class with a scowl and a threat for detention. It didn't make for a positive learning environment, and I was eager to get out of there for high school by eighth grade.

I had some great English teachers in high school, Mr. and Mrs. Ogrin (a married couple), who in my junior and senior years really helped me learn how to dive into a book and find material for papers. It definitely helped give me a leg up when I got into college and the idea of writing a 5-7 page paper wasn't an intimidating concept.
 

D'Snowth

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I'm not sure what experiences I could share specifically at the moment . . . I can think of a few, but I'll get to them later.

Just to generalize things, I remember elementary school was pretty great. I went to sort of a "small town" elementary school, where it was like everybody knew everybody, and all the families knew each other as well, so it was like nobody was a stranger, almost everybody was your friend, and it was pretty much a carefree time.

Middle school on the other hand . . . whew. I barely survived three years by the skin of my teeth: it was a magnet school, so I pretty much went there because of all the great electives they had to offer, such as web design and video production (and as I've said in other threads, my video production class also hosted our TV/radio frequency and I was one of our DJs). The downside was the school was right smack dab in the middle of the ghetto, sandwiched inbetween two projects, so we had all kinds of scuffles: fist fights, bomb threats, lockdowns . . . matter of fact, we had security guards before security guards in school were the norm! I had fewer friends in middle school than elementary school, and I was bullied a lot more too for being fat; being one of the DJs kind of got me more recognition and less bullying, but it's not as if I endeared myself to people, it just kind of made the bullying stop a little.

I attended public high school for roughly four weeks, and although the high school I originally went to was out in the suburbs, it was surprisingly very similar to middle school, just without the ghetto. But still: fist fights, scuffles, students mouthing off at teachers, and the tradition of smoking and getting high in the bathrooms. After those four weeks, my parents pulled my out and homeschooled me for the rest of my school years; although certain subjects I did actually take at home - such as history, reading, English, and Bible studies - other, more involved courses I did have to attend co-op classes for - such as science, math, and electives. I had the same math teacher for those four years . . . he was the only person who managed to make math bearable and tolerable, because it was always my worst subject, and always my least favorite - he was very much like a grandfather to me.
 

Pig'sSaysAdios

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I hope I don't sound like a d*****bag when I say this but, I think this is why I was homeschooled. I usually don't tell people that because people are often super awkward about it. I learned/am learning all the things students in public school learn. The only difference is I actually get to study more of what interests me, unlike most people i've talked to.
 

D'Snowth

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Public high school, from what I remember, was really a drag. Unlike middle school, where we had six (eventually seven) different classes/periods a day, in high school there were only four, and they were all really, really long and dragged out. I don't quite even remember my schedule, but I seem to recall there was only one elective I ended up taking, and that was a course called "Innovators and Inventors." It was essentially the kind of class where you built things, like wooden cars, bottle rockets, I remember I was dabbling in digital photography for a while (the teacher let me take a mugshot of him for a wanted poster lesson). Other than that, I think my other classes were science, psychology, and geography. I don't even remember if I had other classes like math or history (well, I suppose geography lumped some history into it), but the strange thing was I had the same teacher for both psychology and geography, so I basically spent half my entire school day in the same classroom.

I will say this though, one thing I did like about public high school was less restrictions: usually during lunch period, whenever I finished eating, I would kill time in the library upstairs (they had a cute, yet dated little book about puppets, including a chapter or two about the Muppets) before heading back to class . . . couldn't do anything like that in middle school.

But perhaps the most awkward experience I had in public high school was a situation I had involving two girls who were my classmates in my science class (I believe). Not sure why, but they both wanted me to . . . um . . . well, to reference SEINFELD, "I believe it's pronounced menag a tois." No way I was gonna do that. I don't even know why they wanted me anyway, unless they were just really, really desperate to get laid or something.
 

fuzzygobo

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My senior year rocked also. We had nine periods (only 40 minutes each). After I got English, Physics, and History out of the way, the rest of the day was a no-brainer.
I was able to take Driver Ed. instead of Gym.
Band- playing drums, easy A.
Chorus- sing, Easy A.
Music Theory (also called "Clapping For Credit")
Study Hall- can go to the library and/or take a nap.
Lunch- after eating, go back to the library for another nap.

Senior year was great, having such a light course load. That left time to concentrate on college entrance exams, hold down a job, play with my band on weekends, AND have a girlfriend!
The best part, it gave me a ton of independence which I craved. I didn't have to sit through too many classes or get bogged down with homework. And nobody bothered me. I still hung out with my friends, but I also got to enjoy the solitude of the library (which the librarian was fanatical about keeping quiet. One pin drop, he threw you out).

Not every year worked out this well, but it made up for the crappy times in grades 3-5.
 
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D'Snowth

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Okay, here are some of the specific experience I feel like sharing.

Some of my experiences from middle school in particular I feel can best be described as some of those kinds of things that "you can't make this stuff up," and in all honesty, I remember several years ago when I used to write Chipmunk fanfics, I fictionalized some of these experiences and gave them to the characters to deal with (as I had aged them up in my fics).

One such experience I can remember was a period of time when I was in Grade 7, and I actually had a stalker. You remember what the Eds went through with the Kankers? Yeah, pretty much like that. Now, if you know what a big guy I am, can you actually imagine this girl was actually three times my size? Both vertically and horizontally? Needless to say, there was always a certain time of day where I had to run inbetween two certain classes, because otherwise, I'd end up practically smothered by this girl wrapping herself around me and lifting me off the ground for a bear hug. This went on for a little while, but finally, one day, I just wanting in the mood for running for cover, so I resigned to being smothered . . . and somehow, that broke her. She hugged me as she normally would, but then she suddenly was like, "What?! You don't love me anymore! That's it! I want a divorce!" And she stormed away, never to bother me again. I'm pretty sure I wrote this as a noodle incident for Simon in one such fic, lol.

Then, of course, as I mentioned in other threads before, there was my Grade 8 reading teacher who was obsessed with the Holocaust - for weeks, we read and watched videos about the Nazi regime, the concentration camps, the genocide of Jews, we studied about such historical figures as Anne Frank and Elie Weisel. Finally, after some of the parents wrote in and complained about the dark and heavy subject matter was when she shifted gears and we began studying Shakespearean comedy. I wrote this reading teacher as Jeanette's reading teacher.
 
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