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The preschool bus, part 3

Part three is supposed to be about this:

3: I’m afraid of letting her go off into the world, period. It’s fucking dangerous.

But you know what? I have nothing to say on that subject. Listing all the things I’m afraid of, from tiny to ginormous, is not going to make me feel better. So it’s on to 4.

I will probably come up with at least one additional thing as I think this through.

I’m not sure whether it’s one or many things, but I’ve been wondering whether I was panicking about preschool mostly because of the emotional turbulence that surrounded my entry into the educational system, and because of my own educational experiences.


My formal education began with Head Start in a tiny rural town. (It’s a kind of federal preschool for poor folk, in case you’ve never heard of it.) I mostly remember rubbing my teacher’s lipstick all over my face when I was supposed to be napping and then telling her I didn’t know HOW my face got like that. At home, things were shitty. My parents had just divorced, and my mother had just had an abortion, and she was clinically depressed. Before she could even get un-depressed, she got pregnant again. She made us move somewhere else, so I started kindergarten in a new place, with a depressed, pregnant mother. I don’t remember the kindergarten experience, but my mother says it was a really bad school and usually cries. A few months later, we moved again, and she left us for the duration of her pregnancy, so I was abandoned by my depressed, pregnant mother. When I think about my children starting school in such circumstances, it makes me really sad. That’s not how it should be. So maybe the fear I felt when I thought about Bun Bun starting preschool is not about MY children, but Little Me reliving what I felt then.

I attended mostly shitty schools, though my second high school was pretty good. I’m not sure what I learned from any of them, good or bad. We covered some material, which left me with some fuzzy recollections. Like, cathedrals were important in European history because….uhthey were. Sure, I learned to read and write and cipher, but I feel like I didn’t learn how to learn until I was a graduate student. Was that a product of the schools? If I’d gone to better schools at a younger age, would I have learned more? I think about that a lot–how HUGE of a genius would I have been if I’d just had some good education?

For research purposes, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about teaching and learning, and the consensus seems to be: American schools demand that students acquire ever more knowledge, while refusing to change teaching methods, despite the fact that these methods do not lead to real learning. So students learn facts in a shallow way, then forget them. Sounds about right. Do better schools do better? Maybe. I’m dubious. Often “better” is based on test scores, and test scores are in part responsible for the shallow learning trend… No question there are schools that do teaching right, where students learn real things in real ways. But my current suspicion is it’s quite hard to tell from the outside.

But if not masses of deep learning, what did I get from my education? Interactions with a few good teachers. I’m not even sure why I think they were good, but they changed me and I remember them. So…I  want the Buns to have as many good teachers as possible.

And I got my interactions with friends. Not many, on account of my introversion and constant moving around, but those I made, particularly towards the end…again, they changed me and are still my friends. My life would have been totally different without them. So…I  want the Buns to have as many good friends as possible, the right kind. The creative, loyal, thoughtful, slightly bad kind.

I think the assumption is that good teachers are more common in better schools, and that may be true. But there are certainly good teachers at shit schools, too–I had some. And the same is probably true of good friends. They’ll meet these people, they’ll be changed, and this will happen wherever they end up. And as for the actual learning of stuff? I suspect that it will be mostly up to them, regardless.


7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Just wanted to say hi. Hi.

    March 15, 2014
  2. Phew. I’m sorry for all the tough stuff, bunny. And it’d be totally understandable if this makes you fear the Buns’ entry into the school system, even though in all likelihood their experiences will be totally different.
    Also: Cathedrals. Very important. And some of them have beautiful windows.

    March 15, 2014
  3. Wow. Yeah, I can totally see why the experience of sending your own kids off to school would be rather fraught.

    March 15, 2014
  4. I do not even want to think about school. Because next year, 2015, George will have to start the compulsory preschool, and then the next over, school. I am not ready for my baby boy to go to school. I do not know how school is over here. I do not want to think about it.
    And so, even if we could have sent him for an optional pre-preschool year this September, we are not. We are keeping him in the same private kindergarten, where everyone knows him, and he knows everyone, he will experience being one of the oldest, to counterbalance the experience of being one of the youngest there. His sensitive nature will not be odd, just part of his personal charm. He will get to play freely with his friends, and we will not think about school for a little while more.

    March 16, 2014
  5. So true, that what we remember most from our formal education is our interactions with others, whether they be good or bad. And also, how much we want our kids to have what we did/didn’t have (depending). It’s so difficult to remove our own layer of experience from – um, crap – all the decisions we make for our children, non? I went to a hippy dippy alternative public school wherein we didn’t have to sit at desks if we didn’t want to, there were no report cards, and things were extremely unstructured. It worked for me because I’m me, but it was a sh*tstorm for my brother. Anyway, I think the gist of this is so true – that a) geography is destiny and b) the rest is up to you.

    March 16, 2014
  6. I somehow want to defy time and space, and just go hug little Bunny girl whose life was full of uncertainty. I’m so sorry. That is NOT how starting school should be for anyone.
    I like that you can remind yourself that the Buns’ learning will not depend on getting them in the “BEST” school in Bunnyville, but will more depend on who they are (and so far, they are learning machines). And I think that good teachers and good friends are a statistical probability of significant likelihood.
    Thank you for the preschool bus series. I loved it!

    March 18, 2014
  7. misfit #

    Hi. Ditto to bad schools. One strict christian school that was private. The best portion of that “education” was self led learning. Parents paid for a little extra good school and I got someone who told me to learn independently. I am all kinds of conflicted about education forced by horrid schools in the area where we are likely to buy a house and then flee to some suburb to afford a decent (not get killed) school for two children. Shoot.

    March 21, 2014

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