Controversial Lessons I Learned Through a Miserable High School Career

by The Couch Poet about a month ago in high school

3 Difficult Lessons You'll Have to Learn, Too.

Controversial Lessons I Learned Through a Miserable High School Career

High school brings back a lot of memories. For some, those memories are positive ones. you were the captain of the football team, or you met the love of your life. For others, those memories are negative ones. My high school memories are negative ones.

Now, I'll admit - if you took an , third-person look back at my four years in high school, it probably doesn't look that bad. I was an honor student, captain of the team and well-respected.

There were plenty of students that had it worse than me. Plenty of students that were constantly bullied, even physically abused by their classmates. Looking back, I wish I had been more perceptive to recognize these interactions, and I wish I had more courage to step in and do something about it when I did recognize it.

There was some value gained from my time in high school, though. I learned plenty of valuable lessons from the most unexpected scenarios and insights. If you're in high school, or entering high school, some of these lessons you'll have to learn through your own experiences. I truly hope that you can find some value through the lessons that I learned.

#1 - Education is a questionable profession, but you can find a "diamond in the rough" teacher.

Teachers are often praised for their noble venture of educating the innovative minds of tomorrow.

In fact, most of the teachers that you'll will fall into three categories. The first category, what I call "curriculum sticklers," teach according to the standardized curriculum and never stray. Note: Most states have legal requirements that teachers a specific set of "standards" through their curriculum, or a standardized curriculum across the entire state. These sticklers, though, they take adhering to standards to a new level by enforcing this almost military-like rigidity. They've got each lesson planned out before the school year begins, and they make no adaptations to the learning styles and speeds of the particular students that they're teaching.

Curriculum sticklers could probably be replaced by robots. The robot could be positioned at the front of the room and read off the mandated of "The Canterbury Tales" to each class. Note: We don't have anything against The Canterbury Tales. We love Chaucer.

The second teacher you'll find is what I've termed the "silent but " teacher. They've earned this name through their incredible ability to not speak more 10 words in a whole school year. At the beginning of the year, they probably won't even actually tell you their name. (It might be on the dry erase board at the front of the room.) You'll be non-verbally assigned a series of reading (probably from the rigid curriculum) and writing assignments, which you'll to be complete in silence and solitude.

This teacher often defends themselves by explaining that "this is how the college professors teach." If that is how your college professor teaches, you should probably consider transferring to a more legitimate school. Both high school teachers and college professors should be engaging and challenging students on .

The third kind of teacher that you'll find that you could probably avoid I call the "advanced mathematics" teacher. Now, this isn't a fair category, because mathematics is an advanced field of study with practical applications.

The reason I've included the advanced mathematics teacher in this section is because, for a majority of students, a high level of mathematics is never going to be required of you in life. , I don't know that I've ever used the quadratic formula, or the formula to solve the area of a trapezoid or SOHCAHTOA outside of my high school career.

Now, I'm not saying that all teachers (or even the teachers described above) are bad people, or bad teachers. It's more that they're adhering to school policies or even state legislation and doing their jobs. , their jobs should be more focused on fostering individual free thought and teaching practical skills that students will actually need to know in the real world.

, you will find a high school teacher who is going above and beyond, and providing an incredible learning experience for their students. For me, this teacher was an 11th grade English teacher. She was a eccentric, but was tasked with the daunting of making teenagers relate to the works of William Shakespeare. How did she do it? She showed up to class in period-appropriate costuming, wielding foam swords, and speaking in ridiculous accents to keep students engaged and involved.

Even students that were considered "problem students" would volunteer for speaking roles in our little classroom production of Macbeth. I look back now and realize that those experiences were some of the most truly inspiring moments of my education.

#2 - It's the activities that are sometimes considered "weird" that you with the most valuable education.

In high school, outside of the normal requirements (math, language, history, etc.) elective classes that you can take that give you a little more freedom, as they're typically free from state-imposed curriculum. It's through these elective courses that you can learn some real world skills that can help you later in life.

To anyone who asks, I recommend the following framework for choosing electives: pick one hands on trade class, pick one performing arts class, pick one business class, and please take public speaking.

In my junior year of high school, I took a class called "architectural design." Now, it wasn't going to make me an expert architect, but it gave me some hands on experience operating power tools, measuring and assessing experiments and designing things on a computer. You'll probably even get to use some cool technology, such as a machine that designs and creates stickers, or a 3-D printer. You'd be surprised at just how much fun you can have while you're actually learning valuable hands-on skills.

The second elective you should be sure to take is a performing arts class. Whether it's drama, choir or even debate, these classes will likely push you outside your comfort zone, and we all know the adage "excellence begins at the end of your comfort zone." The elective I took in high school was called "speech and debate." A class like this also gives you the tools and techniques you need to formulate rational and logical arguments and to defend your values and point of view.

In addition to those two classes, you should definitely take a business or economics related class. I can't stress this enough. Most high school offer electives in business, and these classes prepare you for the real world. Take a look at the class descriptions and take a course that you think you'll get value from. The high school I went to actually required sophomores to take a course called "financial literacy," where they taught you things like how to open a bank account, the principles of credit-building and how to write a check. These are skills that you will need in the real world that often aren't taught in high schools.

Finally, please please please make sure you take a public speaking class. Public speaking is the single most widespread fear of Americans, and it doesn't have to be so scary. Learn the principles of creating and rehearsing a speech or meeting, and effective techniques for curbing stage fright. Please, take a public speaking class. You'll thank me later.

Use these electives to learn the things that you'll actually need to know in life, and that will make adulthood less stressful for you.

#3 - You can try to be popular. Being popular might stop other people from hating you. But being popular won't stop you from hating you.

This was something that I wish someone taught me before I was about to graduate. High school essentially follows a caste system, and has a hierarchy of social status that determines how well-liked you are. Usually, athletes are somewhere near the top, while studious academics are somewhere near the bottom. You might think that being popular and finding your way to the top of the pyramid helps you - and in a way it does. You might find that less people insult you. However, even by being popular, you're not gaining any real friends. You're gaining people that want to be associated with you, because you're popular.

Note: We're not saying to not join clubs or sports teams, as these are valuable ways to meet new friends and learn new skills. We're saying to not join clubs or sports teams with the intention of raising your popularity.

What they don't tell you about being popular is that it doesn't change how you feel about yourself. If you want to become popular because you're not confident in yourself, becoming more popular doesn't make you any more confident. In fact, becoming more popular many times leaves you feeling more empty and clueless than you were when you were less popular.

Your best route for success is to work on improving yourself. Whether that means seeing a mental health professional, engaging in healthy and productive social activities, or anything else, you'll want to be happy and confident with yourself before you start adding the high school social maze to that equation.

Takeaway: High school is a tough time for many, and it's a chance for you to learn a lot about yourself and about the world. You'll learn many lessons, some of which you'll learn through difficult or challenging experiences, but they'll all benefit you in the future. These three controversial lessons I learned in high school may or may not apply to you, but I hope that you found value in my experiences.

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The Couch Poet
The Couch Poet
Read next: The Unconventional College Life
The Couch Poet

Just an NJ based poet writing about the human condition - my human condition. Hope you can relate!

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