Elementary school: great or garbage?

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Erik Heindlmeyer and Hailey Warsaw

Looking out the window on a snowy afternoon in Instructor Ken Strobel’s third hour journalistic writing class, just across the way, we watched as elementary schoolers rushed out of Great Lakes Elementary. Some ran to swing with their friends, while others hurried over to play basketball or flip on the bars.

  “Seeing those kids be so carefree and happy made me reminisce on just how wonderful elementary school really was. I would do anything to go back to those days,” thought Jr. Hailey Warsaw. “Elementary school was definitely a great time in my childhood.”  

“A sour taste in my mouth.. that’s all I can think about as I see those kids go out to play. What a waste of time; all those kids are doing is getting dirty. Recess was horrible, but elementary school was even worse. I can’t think of any reason I would ever go back,” thought Jr. Erik Heindlmeyer.

 

  Clearly, we have very different views about elementary school.

 

  After a long few hours of practicing addition and listening to your teacher read stories to your third grade class, nothing was better than hearing the bell for recess. While high schoolers are wasting away in some confusing AP class, elementary kids get the freedom to play outside twice a day.

  Not only is it enjoyable to be outside, but the list of activities you can do are nearly limitless. There’s foursquare, kickball, soccer, football, basketball. You can do obstacle courses on playground equipment, swing on monkey bars, and flips on the bars. It’s nothing but having fun with your friends and doing whatever you please for 30+ minutes. While kids might get dirty or skin their knee every once in  awhile, it’s all part of being a kid. What would a friendly game of tag or soccer be without a few grass stains?

  I miss these fun, carefree days. I miss playing games and getting to hangout with my friends every day. Now, I barely get to talk to my friends for two minutes before I’m off to class, much less spend more than a half hour with them outdoors. My schedule, along with many of my peers,is filled with hours of homework, SAT prep, and extracurriculars, there is hardly any time to take a step back and enjoy the day. Recess is the perfect time to relax, have fun, and truly be a kid. Recess is definitely something I love and miss about elementary school.

 Ah recess… it was the worst of times. There is no point for a school to have recess.            Looking back on my elementary days, I cannot think of one good thing to come out of recess.   Kids get dirty, kids get hurt, kids waste time. I never went outside for recess,as long as I could avoid it; staying inside was the best option.

  Schools should not schedule recess time. Time is valuable and can not be regained once it is lost. Some kids do not even benefit from the supposed “social interaction” of playing with other children. The idea in a lot of elementary  schools is to “leave no child behind.”  That essentially means that learning is tailored to help all children, but the school forces all children to participate in the dreaded recess. How is that fair?

  On the playground , children separate into groups. Those who are supposed to be learning to play with others  are often the ones who are excluded by the “well developed” and “adjusted” children. I speak from personal experience.  Children are nasty. While elementary school children waste their precious time on the playground, high schoolers are using their time effectively… often challenging themselves with a nice AP class. Time should be spent preparing for your future. Time should not be wasted on pointless activities like jump-rope, hopscotch and kickball.

  One of the best things about elementary school is friends., everyone in elementary school was , for the most part, kind, friendly, and open to everyone. Things were simple; there was no drama, no rumors, no cliques. People were nice to one another without a  second thought of any of these things. Kids would invite their whole class to birthday parties,  and have “play dates” with one anyone in their class; everyone would participate in the recess soccer game and not have a care in the world about anything else besides having a fun time.

  Sadly, the same can’t be said about high school. Today, more often than not, social politics dictate who hangs out with whom. Between the social labels others categorize you by,   the rumors that spread around school, and  the judgements made on your appearance and grades, friendship is unfortunately a  lot more complicated. But, these factors would never have  come to mind in  elementary school, and I wish I could say the same was still true today.

Friends in elementary school are the worst. Nobody makes meaningful connections in elementary school. Kids separate themselves based on neighborhood or because of who their parents are. Sure, some people may have stayed friends with one or maybe two of their “best friends” from elementary; however, that is a rare case.

  People change as they grow older, and in my experience,  elementary children were little devils. Sure, everyone pretended to be friends for the benefit of the grown ups… however if anyone bothered to look closer they would see the problems. Humans tend to want to separate so that they can be in the “in-group”; anyone not in that main group is an outcast.

 Those who look back fondly on their elementary days are lazy popular kids who didn’t have trouble because they were on the top of the social ladder. For the rest of us, elementary was a battleground constantly trying to avoid being picked on. Despite my best efforts to lie low, I was set apart. Because I came from a different school, that put me at a disadvantage. I knew absolutely zero kids walking into my first day of first grade.

  The other little monsters had all gone to preschool and kindergarten together. That is not the only reason I was picked on either. As an accelerated learner, I was often being singled out for being a “nerd.” High school is much better – you are not stuck with the same people all day, and because you are older,  your interests have changed. The friends you make in high school are overall more understanding and while you may not have as many so called “friends” , the friends you make in high school like you for you. High school friends are genuine while elementary friends are fake.

  Learning in elementary school was a very enjoyable experience. Teachers were patient and caring, making sure everyone understood the topics. Creative activities and games would be implemented into lessons, adding variety to classes and making learning fun and interesting for kids. Elementary schoolers  also had the  opportunity to go on field trips and learn about a variety of subjects first hand, something that is rarely done in many student’s high school careers.       

  Elementary schoolers  always had  a strong relationship with the teacher. Because of this, the classroom environment was more personal and lighthearted. Now, in high school, things are very different. Lessons are rushed. Teachers have hundreds of students and don’t have the time to make meaningful relationships with everyone. Not nearly enough creative activities are done; usually the only source of learning is taking notes, reading textbooks, and rushing to get hours of homework done. Learning has gone from pleasant, fun, and hands-on to stressful and exhausting. I would love to go back to the elementary days where learning didn’t mean staying up all night to finish an essay or spending hours studying for a test.

Learning in elementary was not an enjoyable experience. Teachers wasted time on so called “fun” or “creative” activities. While most people thought that those activities were enjoyable, they were wrong. Those “fun” lessons were nothing more than a waste of time, especially at the school that I went to.

  I know that some other elementary schools  in the district had advanced classes, but North Holland did not offer any. The only advanced class that students could take was advanced math, and students had to be dropped off by their parents to a different school to participate. High school academics are much more diverse and challenging, and because as elementary children we wasted time on “fun” activities, many students complain about the work load. This is easy to explain, because of all the time we spent on those “fun” lessons,  high school students expect to be taught in these same  ways.

  There is absolutely nothing that could convince me to go back to those elementary days. The past is in the past. Elementary was so unenjoyable,  I do not see how anyone could ever want to go back. High school is much better, not only are there more elective options, but there are actually advanced classes to take. All in all,  elementary school was way worse academically. Some people may argue that teaching in elementary is supposed to benefit all learners, but why waste that time when that will not be the case in life at all? Teachers should be preparing students for the real world even in elementary.

  As the bell rings for 4th hour the students of Strobel’s third hour journalistic writing class grab their bags and rush off to their next classes.

  As I walk to my next class, I realize how quickly my childhood and school career has passed by. It seems like only a second ago I was enjoying the simple pleasures of what it meant to be an elementary schooler.

  As I walk to my fourth hour I reflect on the past… my past. With unwavering certainty, I realize that now, after reflecting on elementary, I have an even deeper appreciation of high school, and I would never want to go back to that war zone, not even for $100,000,000.