My Education

So before I talk about how education should be, I want to write down how mine was. This is gonna be off the heart, so it’s a bit of a change.

Let’s start with my time during kindergarten. That isn’t in the kindergarten, as I didn’t learn much there. We basically just played with dominos or outside, sung a few songs, nothing special. I didn’t even learn how to read during that time unlike others. I didn’t know until recently, but some play schools taught the kids how to read simple texts, which is pretty nice. It’s not like this is a difficult skill for English, German, Spanish and some other western languages. It’s very similar to our spoken language so all you need to learn are the readings of about 26 letters.

I was filled with curiousity however. I played board games with my parents a lot who also read out books for me. I couldn’t wait to learn how to read, at least that much I remember. So they told me to wait patiently for school and get me quite pumped through that. Also I was quite good at math already. My mother told me how I could double numbers to the 5th digit even before school. So entering school all I had was average to good language skills, very good math skills and a mind full of curiousity.

Then grade school (4 years in Germany) began and I’ve finally learned how to read. Slowly letter by letter I learned how to read and write words and texts. During that time I basically read everything I could. Be it advertisements, small flyers, instructions or story books, it didn’t matter. As a result I very quickly was able to read fluently. While my classmates struggled with simple texts (and still did years later) never had those problems in school. I even listened to most grammar rules, although I can’t remember all of them. They probably still helped. As for math, it was my subject to shine. That’s not to say I wasn’t good in other subjects, I was pretty good throughout school even. Math was just my area where I had few who could rival me. I quickly learned any new structure, so I could easily solve my problems. That also never changed during my entire school life, although it took me a bit longer to get the hang of it in high schoo. Still, being able grasp new concepts in a week or even less was very handy.

Funny story #1: As homework we had to copy 10 math problems each day and solve them. They were all just simple problems like 3x5, etc. Little me at that time found the copying part to be a pain in the ass and my teacher realized I was bored with the problems anyway. So she allowed me to get “special homework” which, she printed from a math program of one of the PCs. They were basically the same, just with higher numbers, so I dealt with 4-digit numbers while my classmates learned multiplication. Upside however is, that I don’t have to copy the problems, so my work actually got reduced to a minute, yay. Later on some friends and other classmates also got that homework until one loudly thought “hey, those are way easier than the usual homework” Yes you moron, shut up! Well, at least we got relieved for a short time

Funny story #2: After distributing some homework my homeroom teacher asked “those who didn’t get any homework shall scream”. Little naive me took it literally and seized the moment to scream from the top of his lungs for a change. Needless to say I was thrown out and my teacher was really Shocked. My mother had to laugh after she heard it.

We also had English lessons during 3rd and 4th grade, but I don’t remember them too much. I had good marks, so it was fine. Of course we also had social lessons, sports, music, art and creation classes.

Then it was time to move to middle school. A lot of my year went to the same middle school, the biggest of my city, which also includes a high school (which later went to). Middle school in Germany lasts 6 years while those who want to do their “Abitur” go 3 years to high school, so I went to that school for the next 9 years.

About one third of my middle school class were from my old class, so I was pretty familiar with those. For some subjects we split up. So while some took a third language as they don’t need to take it in high school later if they do it now, others took rather regular classes. Me, having the great choice between Spanish and French, took the former. Actually, my whole class pretty much decided that both are practically the same, just that French sounds weird and is thus difficult to learn. Meanwhile Spanish pronunciation is very close to German in many regards, so we all took that. Later we were also split into basic and advanced courses in German, English, Math and Natural Science. Although we stayed together as a class for the last one while had mixed courses with another class of our year.

Middle school is also the time where I became lazy. I’ve realised that no matter how diligently I did my math problems, more would come anyway. So I became slower, doing only what I needed to do. Same for English and German where I oftentimes improvised my homework or do it in the break before the lesson. During the last years of middle school, I barely did any homework, which didn’t affect my final mark much, so that was fine.

One of the main things needed to be mentioned for middle school is the simple fact that I retained a good chunk of my curiousity. I think that’s the main reason why I did well during all of my school life. Except for some Ds on vocabulary tests, especially in Spanish, my marks were always pretty good. Not so much in Spanish as I’ve come to dislike the language with its huge amount of irregular words, but pretty much everything else was good. I paid attention to class and did well on tests, that’s all. I think that’s also everything you need to do for the most part in school to do well. In fact one of my classmates even told me that later on. He kinda needs an own paragraph though.

I can’t remember too much about him (let’s call him guy A) during the first year of middle school, so I’m just gonna skip to the part where we got a new guy to our class. That new guy was basically what you expect from a lower class child. He did badly in school, caused trouble for everyone else and was basically what you call a bad influence to others. He didn’t even stay for long, although I don’t know why he left. Might even be expelled, I don’t know. Guy A however had a friend in him as they hung out together. As a result guy A didn’t do good in school and he was later put in the basic courses. I think he did the advanced course for natural science though. Somehow after guy A left our school, guy A and I hung out in school together. It barely makes sense since I was more the quiet nerd type while he was a lot more violent and more the bully type. Those two even did bully me to some small degree, but not very much actually. Anyway, later he told me one thing during natural science class, that stuck to me quite a bit. He just told me “Hey Basti, school is really easy if you pay attention to classes, isn’t it?” It basically just confirmed what I thought. Sadly he realised that too late during his last year in middle school, so he couldn’t switch to advanced classes to have enough to transfer to high school.

Oh also he’s a nazi. He even was a nazi during middle school and fully admitted it. He did some right jokes and our class, even our school, knew about it. Even so we still hung out, we just never talked about politics, since we both knew we wouldn’t agree with the others view.

Then high school came around and I did my abitur. I picked up Japanese as it was offered city wide from in a school in the centre of the city. I was also in the programming “profile” so I had 5 school hours on computer science per week. As second main subject I picked math of course. The rest were just 3-4 classes per week. Which was still a lot, cause I kept all my subjects through high school. Computer science, math, German, English, physics, chemistry, art, politics, history, philosophy, sports, I did it all for whatever reason.

My school was very cool though. One of my friends started a forum for our school and also an online tool of cancelled classes. He told the school he needed an office to manage those so he even got one somehow. He even moved to another office later which was quite large and equipped with computers, a tv, a games console, a coffee machine, a microwave, a fridge, a sofa (mostly provided by us). So high school life was pretty fun.

I was still lazy though. Barely doing any homework, I had to realise that I lacked some writing practice. I wasn’t doing badly, but I felt I could still do a lot better if I put some effort into it outside of our tests.

Oh also, I had very good teachers I think. I’m not sure if they were good at their profession, because I could learn under all of them regardless of their technique, but they were all very human. Pretty much all of them tried to teach us to the best of their abilities and saw us students as humans. That’s not common as I learned during my years at school. For example a friend I had math classes with was told that he won’t pass high school later on. That was in 5th grade, so right after grade school when he was about 10 years old. Such a demotivational remark is totally unacceptable, because it doesn’t give kids any guidance. It just intimidates them, resulting in worse grades. In this case it worked out for him, seeing as he did his abitur with me and also took the advanced course in math with me.

That’s pretty much my school life until I was more or less ready for university. I learned quite a lot of things, since I pretty much always attended classes. I just didn’t learn how to sit down and learn by myself, which is very important for university.

The only thing that carried me through my school life was curiousity. I basically absorbed what my teachers taught us. Even if I didn’t listen for a moment or even longer, it was easy to keep up because school wasn’t very fast. Exercises and repition were more than enough to memorize the things we had to learn. Also the more knowledge one has, the easier it is to gain new knowledge as you can connect it with what you have.

Written on April 29, 2017