What did you learn in elementary school?

I’m thinking about how little I learned in school before college. Now, when I got to college, it was my 12th school in 12 years, so maybe my experience was not totally average. But I went to schools in supposedly great school districts from grade one through half of fourth grade and then again for grade six and seven. I went to private school in fifth grade and eighth grade. And I went to public school in a supposedly bad school district for half of fourth grade and in kindergarten.

In kindergarten, I learned to share and be around other kids, but I also learned that I just couldn’t get up in the morning and morning kindergarten was just not going to work for me.

In first grade, I learned to read.

In second grade, I started to learn how to share knowledge by teaching other students how to read. I also began to process that adults could be as cruel as children.

In third grade, I learned that sometimes punching someone in the face is more effective than going through proper channels and specifically that punching a bully in the face is shockingly effective.

In fourth grade, I learned that sometimes people get weird about what gender your friends are. I learned that adults could actually be much much crueler than children.

In fifth grade, I learned multiplication and sort of learned division. I had mostly figured out addition and subtraction and some % stuff on my own.

In sixth grade, I learned that I was very bad at handwriting and probably always would be, but I might have an aptitude for writing as well as reading.

In seventh grade, I went to school with a member of the Bush family who became our student body president and watching him run taught me how to successfully run for class president myself in tenth grade. I also learned that paying some minimal attention to personal grooming improved social interaction. I also learned some typing skills, partly because I needed to, but largely because I had this crush on a boy in my school, who I think had a crush on me too, but we were both too shy, so we would both come in for after school typing practice and it would be just the two of us typing and talking.

In eighth grade, I learned a little bit of Elizabethan and American history, just enough really so that I’m not totally surprised by the plot of The Tudors on Showtime. I started learning to play Dungeons & Dragons. My art teacher convinced me to never do art again and it was years before I came back to it.

And that is pretty much everything I learned in my first decade in classrooms. Seems like there should have been more to show for that much time spent in places I did not want to be, at times I did not want to be awake, with people I might never have chosen to be around on purpose.

Incidentally, my experience was that teachers in the best school districts tended to resent their students intensely because those teachers were less fortunate than their students’ parents. Sensitive, artistic kids don’t do particularly well with resentment.