Just a little disclaimer: I know everyone has had different educational experiences and that some people may love middle and high school but this is just my take. Maybe you'll be able to relate and if not, that's cool too. I also used pseudonyms for all names in this.
Overall, elementary school was my favorite time to be in school. Looking back, even the things that seemed like problems at the time were minuscule compared to what was to come. I often wish I could go back in time to recesses, field trips, and thinking I was good at playing the recorder. Here are some things that I thought were particularly enjoyable from elementary school, a.k.a. the primetime:
Coloring, Drawing, and Cutting Out Shapes
There was nothing I loved more than art projects in elementary school. Whether it be hand turkeys, valentines, or simply drawing on the back of a test because I finished early. Our teachers would plan out fun art projects and at the end, I couldn't feel more pride than when they would hang up the class's work for all to see. Not only that, but it was a way to see everyone's creativity as many projects had room for creative liberty. As the school years have passed there are less and less art projects. As much as I love writing twenty-page papers, now that I'm in college, I would rather do a hokey science fair-like board to show my college-level work.
Friends Are Your Friends (Even When They're Not)
In my elementary school experience, it seemed like everyone was friends even when you weren't. I remember myself as being pretty laid back and easy to be around. I would bounce around and hang out with different kids. I had three main friends. They were Tia, Chanel, and Barb. I could name probably a million times we would get into disagreements but in the end, we were always friends and would continue to hang out with each other. I don't know if it was because we had no one else to run to or because we knew how silly our reasons for being mad at each other were. Getting older into high school, when someone was mad at someone else, it ended in permanently cutting that person out of your life.
Low Risk and Low Ambiguity Tasks Are My Life
Now that I'm in college, there is nothing I wouldn't give to have a simple worksheet be given to me in class. I can split the work I had to do in elementary school into three sections: Worksheets, Poster Boards, and Essays. I would say worksheets took up 60 percent (if not more) of the time in class. I would whip through those things like it was no one's business. Now worksheets have ten subquestions to one question with twenty questions and multiple choice is scarce, so you really have to know your stuff with the short answers.
Out of high school and middle school, I would say middle school was the worst. Three years was enough for me to know I would never make a trip back to see what once was, nor would I ever teach those grades (I'm an elementary education major). Middle school was filled with so much angst. Most of the people I know agree that our middle school selves were quite the characters.
My main problem with middle school is that there are so many pre-teens and teens put together and expected to succeed academically while their limbic systems are mylenating at newfound speeds. Every little issue explodes into being a monumental deal. I would often find myself dramatically gazing out of windows while listening to my emo music. Everything was either, "Oh my gosh, my life is over. Everyone hates me. I'm going to die alone," or, "No one understands me. My life is so hard. The universe is out to get me." While I was once trying to figure out why everyone else had their lives together, I look back and realize that we were all probably trying to figure that out. We were hot messes.
I don't know about you, but cliques got very prominent in middle school for me. There were athletes, nerds, band kids, emos, and the bad boys. Some of the athletes were nerds and some of the band kids were emos. They were all somewhat intertwined. I fell in with the emo band kids but didn't really like where I fit. It seemed no matter who I hung out with, no one liked me. But that could just be my old teen angst kicking in. What I do know is there were so many people in my grade that I didn't know because I didn't really venture out of my group. However, it also could've been because I'm painfully shy. Either way, from what I've seen on Facebook, we've all come a far way from where we were in middle school.
High school, the lesser of two evils, was quite the plot twist in my educational experiences. The high school I went to was not where I was originally intending on going. I had to switch districts. As I was going to a nicer school district I still felt that it was academically and socially challenging. I didn't know anyone going in and academically, I was a step behind everyone else.
Being as Good as You Once Were
In my previous academic experiences, I had always been a fairly good student. I got A's and B's, and C's were looked down upon as I was once considered "gifted." High school was the first time where I had no idea what was going on. Expectations were set so high for me then I found myself struggling to catch up, particularly in math and science. I would be faced with the, "Oh, but I thought you were good at math. I thought you liked math." Well, I thought I did too. Those classes were basically a four-year struggle for me even with tutors and extra help. But in the end, I graduated, so I guess I found resiliency.
I usually managed to be a floater amongst the drama that happened in high school. I actually enjoyed getting both side's takes on the issues. I managed to get a big group of friends freshman year. By senior year I had maybe one-ish, because everyone found reasons to be mad at each other. My group started out with Giselle, Bay, May, Lea, Haley, and Sara. Giselle was boy obsessed, which caused the other girls to find her annoying, and they slowly weaned her out of the group. Bay, Lea, and May broke off as a trio and developed a dislike for Haley. Haley broke off and became friends with Sara. Haley eventually broke off from Sara to be friends with Shay and Shai. Bay and May also broke off from each other but Bay still stayed friends with Lea. May was so desperate to leave Bay that she went to another school. I know, it's exhausting. I'm not quite sure how all of this happened but I'm sure the cause was something stupid, like a boy or forgetting to invite someone out.
I'm sure everyone is familiar with the really intense, rule-enforcing administration in schools. There were many rules that could be enforced and everyone took them very seriously. Some rules include wearing shorts that go to your thumbs, not sitting inside the building when you're not in class, don't forget your ID, and common sense rules (no vandalism, hurting people etc). I live in Arizona and as many people know, it gets extremely hot here. I once got dress coded for wearing shorts. You know when you sit down for a while and your shorts ride up? That's what happened. I was adjusting my shorts back to their original length and I heard, "Hey! Quit messing with your shorts! Put your arm down so we can see how long those are!" So I did, because I'm colored and I'm not about to start problems. I then received the reaction of, "Your thumbs are long." Which I thought was confusing. So I changed into sweatpants that I brought for gym class. As I said before, we couldn't sit inside the buildings if we weren't in class, so I got to sit outside in one hundred degree weather in my sweatpants for lunch. It was unpleasant, as you could imagine. Yet somehow I could wear my spandex booty length shorts for track practice. I haven't been back to campus but I heard they banned leggings this past year. Cray.
Being in college has been so wonderful. I am only finishing up my third year and there are still three semesters left for something to go wrong but so far it has been a grand experience. There are so many people to meet and so many classes to choose from. There have been many opportunities and I actually have interest in what I'm learning. College was built up by my high school teachers to be a very intense and stressful experience even though that couldn't be farther from the truth for me.
College was the perfect opportunity for me to get a new start. I could reinvent myself and leave my poor choices in the past. No one could judge me for my past decisions, only for how I came and presented myself. No one would know about my emo angsty past or how I failed first-year algebra. It was a great start. With this newfound confidence I feel like I was really able to succeed and be comfortable with myself. I also felt less of a need to please others because cliques haven't had much of an impact on me while being in college.
Schedules and Professors
I never really knew how getting college classes worked until I had to do it myself. I could choose any class (that met the requirements I needed) out of many options for whatever time I wanted. I could have two classes in the morning and the whole rest of the day to myself. Or I could sleep in and have one class in the evening. This was very helpful since I also have had to work during my school sessions. Once I got my classes, I was originally expecting all the teachers to be strict and/or boring. They were all actually so chill. Of course, not all of them were great, but many of them were alright. They were understanding and some would even cancel exams if they thought everyone was going to fail. I wouldn't see that in high school.
Okay, I'm Done
Now, not everything was bad in middle school and high school and not everything has been good in elementary school and college, but overall I would never want to relive middle school or high school. Also, I may just like elementary school and college because they both have the most to do with my career path of being an elementary school teacher. So that's all.