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What I Learned in School (And What I COuld Have Learned at Home

What I Learned in School (And What I COuld Have Learned at Home

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Deborah Wuehler tells her own true tale of success and failure in public and private schools. Then she discusses what she could have learned if she had been homeschooled.
Deborah Wuehler tells her own true tale of success and failure in public and private schools. Then she discusses what she could have learned if she had been homeschooled.

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Published by: The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine on Aug 15, 2011
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08/15/2011

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What I Learned in School(And What I Could Have Learned at Home)
By Deborah Wuehler, Senior EditorI thought I’d take a nostalgic trip down memory lane and review my own history of school experiences. I attended both public and private schools, and I saw thatalthough the world said I was succeeding, I was really failing grade by grade. Iremember at 4 years old that a love for learning was in my heart and soul at home,but somehow twelve years and eleven different schools later when I graduated at 18,I despised most of what was related to formal education. What happened and whatdid I really learn in school? Here’s my own true tale of success and failure:
Kindergarten
I learned you had to leave that wonderful, secure place called home for a placewhere you were supposed to learn all kinds of new things—and at an age much tooearly to leave that security. I learned that even if you cried day after day, nobodycared and you still didn’t get to go home. I learned that you could cry on your mat atnaptime so that the nobody who didn’t care wouldn’t see you cry. I learned that theonly thing to do was to play blocks with bully boys or play house with bossy girls,and the teacher always frowned because I didn’t want to do either. I learned thatthere was never anything good to read and nothing to do or learn that I wasn’talready able to do at home—if I could only be there.
 I succeeded in
making my teacher unhappy and learning to cry quietly.
 I failed in
fitting in and learning anything of significance.
What I could have learned at home:
I could have played in the snow andthen studied the patterns of snowflakes, read stories about snowy days to mybaby sister, and baked cookies with my mom while I learned some math.
“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you,That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which isin heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)First Grade
I learned that if you could read to the teacher, she would smile, and if you couldn’t,you had to sit in a special circle with the teacher, whose face looked tired. I learnedthat you had to let the big mean boy who sat next to you eat what he wanted out of your lunch or you would get pinched or kicked. I learned to endure hunger as Ifeared the repercussions of tattling. I learned you had to stay at school even longerhours than when you were in kindergarten.
 I succeeded in
learning that paste didn’t taste as good as it smelled andhow bean plants could sprout in a cup just like in my garden at home.
 I failed in
getting away from the big mean boy or even praying for him.
What I could have learned at home:
To help plant the garden and water itand weed it and maybe even chart its growth. I could have studied theinsects that were good for the garden and the ones that weren’t. I could havewritten all about it in my own special book while eating my lunch undisturbed.
 
“Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:14) Second Grade
I learned that only the smart, quiet kids got the positive attention, but they had tobe bored most of the day. I learned that the busy, noisy kids had to learn to be quietand sit still even if it was sheer torture. I learned that if you were someone whoneeded extra help, you were an extra burden to bear. I learned that only the richkids had the milk money, and it seemed like it was more beneficial to be rich than tobe smart when you wanted milk.
 I succeeded in
learning to read the clock so I could count the hours until Icould leave.
 I failed in
self-control as I learned to steal from my dad’s dresser for milkmoney.
What I could have learned at home:
That I could have had free milk withthe cookies I helped bake and that it was more beneficial to be content andhonest than to be rich.
“By humility and the fear of the L
ORD
are riches, and honor, and life.” (Proverbs 22:4)Third Grade
I learned that the teachers didn’t know what to do with the smart students, so theygave those students extra worksheets or sent them back to the kindergarten class tohelp the teacher. I learned that most of the time was spent explaining and repeatingeverything for the rest of the class and then giving out homework since we nevercould finish in class. I learned that some boys like to kiss girls at recess and thatsome girls like to be chased, except for me and my friend Michelle, who taught me tosing love songs she heard on the radio.
 I succeeded at 
helping the kindergarteners cut on the dotted lines and gluethings down.
 I failed at 
learning anything new for myself except how to stay away fromboys.
What I could have learned at home:
That I could have finished my schoolmuch sooner in the day and not had any homework at night. I could havelearned to sing love songs to God and learned not to follow what others did.
“Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.” (Exodus 23:2)Fourth Grade
I learned that staying home when you were pretending to be sick was much morecomforting than going to school to be teased. I learned that you had to wear theright clothes or have the right hair color to have any friends at all. I learned thatgifted education meant you got to get together with a few other kids and take all
 
year to put on a play. I learned some things from the bad kids in fourth grade that Inever knew before and didn’t want to know.
 I succeeded at 
tutoring a slow reader, learning decimals and fractions,memorizing the five lines in my play, and daydreaming the rest of my schoolhours away.
 I failed at 
being strong enough to ignore the kids who made up lots of newnames for me and my bright red hair and avoiding the destructiveness of bitterness.
What I could have learned at home:
How to research topics and writeabout what interested me. I could have learned good character traits such ashonesty and courage.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor  standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” (Psalm 1:1)Fifth Grade
In public school, I learned to doodle on my
Pee Chee
folder while waiting for theteacher to explain everything to the other kids. I learned that you could getchocolate bars if you got 100% on your spelling tests every week . . . and then bebullied out of them at recess. I learned that even after switching to a Christianschool, you weren’t safe, because the bullies who were kicked out of public schoolended up there. One ended up in my classroom alone with me at lunchtime, and Iwas blessed to be able to escape him. I learned that the work was much morechallenging than the public school (although I had to do a lot of it at night andcouldn’t play any more), and so were the kids.
 I succeeded at 
having good grades and being put on the student council,which had no purpose or goals.
 I failed at 
remaining safe from fear at both schools I attended.
What I could have learned at home:
To have a reason to learn, a goal tostrive for, socialization at all levels, and an abundance of educational fieldtrips.
“Do they not err that devise evil? but mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good.” (Proverbs 14:22)Sixth Grade
Back in public school, I learned that the teacher could yell really loud while the veinson his neck bulged out. I learned that you could be afraid of your teacher. I learnedthat your teacher could point you out in front of the class and tell all the kids to belike you or to continue being stupid—which made them not like you at all. I learnedthat the school could pull you out into a separate classroom and teach you sexeducation without your parents ever knowing about it. I learned that it was okay fora teacher to curse at students.

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