Ah--well i have stayed away from this thread-- I am a good example of a bad education.
My early childhood education was from dedicated nuns, all educated themselves, but saddled with classes of 45 to 50, to at one point, in 4th grade, 84 unruly students,(in one class!) Sometime not even enough desks and seats, let alone books. (I remember 4th grade well, as I came back to school late that year, having missed the first two weeks-- and was seated on top of the big old cast iron radiators for the first month! )
My home had one bookcase about 3 feet wide, and three shelves high. Both my parents lacked an education. I did grow up in house that read, but i don't ever remember my mother reading anything but novels..
We didn't have a complete dictionary in the house. A large multi volume edition of the Funk and Wagnols had been offered as a promotion in a store, and we had most of the volumes.. and no other reference books till i was in High School. There is a federal program to assist poor schools purchase text books, but Dictionaries are not considered text books, so, while my school has some, there were not enough to available to have a dictionary for every student.
(I currently at home have a shelf of dictionaries-- and the OED became a line item in my divorce settlement-- with my ex getting it.)
Since both of my parents are immigrants, i also did not have a large or extended family, so there was no kind aunt or uncle who came in to bridge the gap.
I was often bored at school, since i had a strong innate ability to read and learn. I was reasonable well behaved, and so got very little personal attention from teachers, who where busy helping the student who they perceive needed their help-- But this lack of guidance had long term effects..
When still in elementary school, I discovered science, and started reading books like "The Microbe Hunters"-- my mother thought it was morbid-- and while almost nothing was strictly censored, non-fiction science reading was not considered normal, and was discouraged. She never banned anything outright, but to discourage, she would "helpfully" return the book to the library for you–whether or not you had finished reading them. I also read "Anne of Green Gables", that was okay– but wanting to read science was not going to be encouraged– and there was no one to defend my desire to learn.
as shanks points out-- (seconded by Wow,)one bad apple, or one bad interaction with a vindictive teacher and that's your career down the tubes. The choices aren't perfect..
That was sixth grade for me.. I spent most of the year seated out side the principle's office. My most serious offence was existing... If either of my parents had been involved with my education beyond dressing me and sending me off to school, they might have realized something was amiss.. (actually my mother became aware of how serious the issue was a week or so after Easter-- and then rationalize, that there were only about 8 week left to the school year, so i could just spend the rest of the term on steps out side the principles office. she didn't think that it had done me much harm, since in spite of not attending any lessons, i was still able to get 80's and 90's on most of the tests. ) She never questioned--why was i able to get 90's with out being in class, and what where the social effects of being banned from class..
Bel, you spoke warmly of holiday's, and wow, you too, seemed to have a happy childhood.. I envy you a bit-- less now than in the past, since i have come to see that a terrible childhood is a wonderful foundation for life.. if you survive it! And i did-- just!
most of my education came in the between spaces.. school exposed me to subjects, and as they interested me, i learned about them. Books, newspapers, museums, all these where between the spaces.. Wow-- i don't know what features your paper included, but i learned to read long stories by reading novels serialized in The (NY) Daily News.. And while I was picking up the newspaper, I learned the habit of reading it. I learned vocabulary from "It pays to Increase your Wordpower" in the Readers digest..
as stated elsewhere in this thread-- this is the first time in history, that we have the expectation that everyone is going to get any education.. There are students, enrolled in NYC "school" program, that are in "light coma's"--with resources going to teach them. (I personally know of 2) Their teacher is expected to prepare a evaluation of the educational goals, and what is being done to reach them-- and at the same time, class size in "regular" classes keeps creeping up, school building keep deteriorating.. schools are cutting arts programs...I don't know if it is that we don't have the resources to teach every one– or that we, as a society are just not willing to allocate the resources (this is definitely an issue in US, I don't know about else where)
Like Mark Twain, i learned the best way to get an education is to read, read, read, and hang around with people smarter than yourself.. in HS, I started to hang around the local university campus– Fordham– and used to pass myself off as a student I hang out here too, ( thank you all! ) and lest you feel shock or sympathy for my somewhat Dickensian childhood--, the fact is, i was in many ways, very lucky.. I had a excellent library at my disposal, and for $0.30 round trip--(or less if i jumped the turnstile) i could be off to a collections of world class museums.. Both the Bronx Zoo and the Bronx Botanical gardens were within walking distance. and frequently visited...
Education, and the treatment of children in general is one way to measure a society. As we have become a more urban society, and children are more of an expense (rather than an asset) I think we have failed in how we treat them. In some ways, they are more "valuable"-- and far more protected than ever before-- but in other ways, much less is expected of children. In NYC over 1 million student take school buses to school, since any child who is more than .5 miles from school entitle to a school bus.. Since walking more than a half mile is considered "too far". Social promotions is the norm too, (but changing-- NY too has standardized test for 4th grade, 8th grade and graduation) since it too difficult for a child to be left back--(i look back at my own childhood, and while i would not wish it on a dog–) it hard not to think that there are no challenges available to these children. They sometimes seem wrapped in cotton wool. And at the same time, there is the movement to "Zero" tolerance– I learned as much from my mistakes as I did from any book– if we have a policy of "zero" tolerance– no mistakes allowed.. No child in their right mind will ever see the value in taking risks...
A comment from Jazz, again if you could-- Since you seem to have (or your parent to some degree) achieved a measure of success. Is it innate ability? your parents willingness to let you take risks, so you learned your own strengths and weaknesses? Good teachers? a rich environment? (by rich, i mean not things, but ideas) growing up in middle class environment, with ready access to books, and culture, not just in the public sphere, but at home?
Is there a defination of what is wrong? and if not, how can we formulate a plan to resolve and make right?-- and even if we can define what is wrong-- can we make right?