Did you have a good high school experience? (For those of you outside the US, this question applies to your schooling in your late teen years, somewhere between 14 and 18 for the typical student.) What do you think is most wrong with the way your schooling at that age was conducted? Do you have anything you think was institutionally most right with how your schooling was conducted? (By institutionally, I mean that "Ron Gabriel, my ninth and twelfth grade English teacher, is so awesome" doesn't count unless the school specifically nurtured his awesomeness. Which it didn't. Rotten bastards. You do not use a person's disability against him. This is not acceptable human behavior.)
Do you have stronger, less strong, or similar feelings towards grade school? Junior high/middle school? If you went to college, college? If you went to grad school, grad school? If someone says "your school," which one do you think of? (That presumes that you're not currently working in any capacity at a school that's becoming "yours.")
Did you have one best year of your schooling, where you were learning the most and figuring out the most about yourself? Did you have more than one? Did you have one worst year? Did they correspond with best/worst years otherwise, or did you separate out your school life and your outside/home life?
Was there a time in your schooling when you really enjoyed the books assigned to you to read? What kind of books were they, or, if you remember, what books? Did you otherwise manage to find good books to read, mostly, or did you go through dry spells in your reading life when you were younger?
My high school was a wretched experience, as growing numbers of you on the friendslist know firsthand. I think the most offensively wrong thing about it is that no one in charge actually seemed to care whether individual students were learning anything or not. There were a lot of wrong things competing for the honor of most wrong, though, and total orderings etc. etc. I don't think RHS did a lot right, institutionally, although there were individual teachers who did their best in a very flawed system.
I have stronger feelings towards college because my alma mater, for all its flaws, was mine: I chose it, and I chose my major. I was stuck with Blumfield Elementary, Ralston Middle School, and RHS. Gustavus I chose. If you separate out Gustavus Physics from Gustavus Adolphus College, it is the closest thing I have to blind patriotism. markgritter and timprov are still bringing me out of "My Department, Right Or Wrong," ("My Professors, Drunk Or Sober" actually might have applied from time to time -- certainly more often than that general sentiment applies to my mother). Whenever I'm reading something where people give their countrymen sanctuary just for being fellow exiles or what have you, the way I get into the mindset is to imagine that it's some Gustie physics geek. Or maybe a Gustie gamer geek. Just a Gustie isn't enough. Aaaaaanyway, I have pretty vivid memories of grade school and junior high, but it's not as much a hot button as high school is. And grad school sucked but is not a very important chapter in my life: I forgive people who don't know me very well for forgetting I was ever in it.
My seventh grade year was probably my best year of schooling, but I've had better years of learning or of personal growth. I had Marylyn Bremmer and Mr. Lesch and Mr.
It occurs to me that 12 and 15 are my "resonant ages" for writing YAs. Huh. I'd known 12 -- 12 is my year, my mental age and all that. (Making me, from my understanding of previous con panels and conversations, younger than pameladean but older than sdn.) But I hadn't spotted 15 as my worst year, which it was. Huh.
I enjoyed the books Marylyn assigned my seventh grade class. Mythology. Ray Bradbury. Mark Twain. "Julius Caesar" with Marylyn doing recitations for us. I'm not sure how much of that was Marylyn herself -- I might fling myself into who knows what, for her sake -- I'd give the woman a kidney, heaven knows I could give her a bit of Sylvia Plath if it would make her happy -- but part of Marylyn being Marylyn herself was that she had us reading The Illustrated Man and not some illustrated abridged nonsense. I never really had a gap in finding books I wanted to read. Seventh grade was also a year in which books I wanted to read totally exploded, because I heard the news that there were genre labels that would give me a much higher probability of giving a damn, and off I went. No wonder I reach for 12 when I want to write books.
But 15 has its promising bits, too; I'll have to think on that.