I Feel Your Pain


Andrew Quinn, sadly a thirteen year old who considers himself liberal and progressive even though he is quite smart, is having a crappy experience in school. I completely understand his experience.

Luckily I spent most of my schooling in the United Arab Emirates at a very good American school where tiered classes began in second grade and were also imposed on social studies and science. Only when I came back to the U.S. for tenth grade did I discover that the tiers had somehow collapsed.

Andrew is right, there is no reason for a student at the academic top of a subject to be in the same room with a student at the academic bottom. The one at the top gets bored or misdirected and the one at the bottom usually gets frustrated by being compared to the top.

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Erick Erickson


  • Hmmm, should I be depressed that the kid writes better than I, I who happens to be 10 years his senior and considers himself “pretty smart?”

    Other than that I agree with his sentiment but you know how public schools don’t like making any feel “less” than others, even if those schools by grade do just that anyways…

  • I think I had the ultimate in this type of experience. My senior year of high school was prevented from being a complete waste of time by two saving graces. One was sports. The other was “joint enrollment” at West Georgia College, now known as the State University of West Georgia. Every morning, I went to West Georgia and took two college classes, and then drove to high school for the rest of my day.

    Thanks to the curriculum regulations, I had to take a high school English class my senior year (English was required all four years). The summer before my senior year of high school, I went to West Georgia and took the writing test that allowed me to exempt the first quarter of English Comp. So that fall, I started out in second quarter English Composition and I believe that I was the only student to make an A in the class. When my professor found out that I was a high school student, she took that as a chance to reprimand the other students who were in the class, telling them that a high school kid was kicking their butts on every assignment. I must admit that although I was embarrassed by the attention, it was sort of cool to know that I was there doing advanced work and doing it well.

    Okay, here is the catch… back to that rule of English all four years. Although I was taking English at West Georgia, when I got back on my high school campus, all bets were off. I still had to take English. Our school offered AP English, but it was only taught during first period. Since I missed first and second periods for college classes, I had to take third period English. I am not exaggerating when I say that there were several students in that class who did not know the definition of a noun. We had to cover the most remedial of writing and grammar rules, and it was like Chinese water torture having to sit through that for an entire year.

    To Andrew, I say hang in there, but do your best to find ways to be challenged. Mine was joint enrollment and AP classes when I could get them. You have to endure a certain amount of wasted time in school, but at some point you do have a choice and that is when it is up to you to make the best of your chances to learn and stretch yourself. Find outside interests that will keep you motivated. Playing sports gave me something to look forward to every afternoon, like I had something fun waiting for me at the end of all the boredom. And I must say that I really enjoyed the change of scene each morning when I arrived on West Georgia’s campus. I would definitely recommend that experience to anyone who has the opportunity.

By Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson

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