Help Me Out Escapists: What Kind of Primary School Did You Attend?

RogueportJack

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Hello Escapists, perhaps you could help me out a little here. Like so many others, I have begun to attempt to write a novel. Since writers typically write what they know, it takes place in a pretty small town like the one I lived in for a while (under 2000 people-ish).

The only problem is that when I had the small town experience, I was in high school. The main characters of my story are children in elementary school. So while I can write about the experience of going to a small town high school with reasonable fidelity, but I went to elementary school in a relatively big city. Obviously, elementary school is very different from secondary school, so I'm in a bit of a jam. I want to get the details right, but it's been difficult finding accounts of what going to elementary school in small town America is like on the internet. (Granted, I haven't looked THAT hard).

So, I guess the question is this: What was your elementary school experience like? How big of a town did you live in? How many kids were in your average classroom? What kind of subjects were on the curriculum? Where were you geographically? It'd really help me out if someone from a small, midwestern town in the United States could respond, but if you had a different situation, feel free to regale us with your tales! Thanks!
 

madwarper

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Mar 17, 2011
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Not sure what type of schools you have, but here we had Grade schools (K-8) and High School (9-12).
What was your elementary school experience like?
Odd.

While there was a Grade school not but 3 blocks away from my house, I was bussed to a school a neighborhood over. Thus, being the token white kid in a almost all black school.
How big of a town did you live in?
Philadelphia is fairly large.
How many kids were in your average classroom?
30-35.
What kind of subjects were on the curriculum?
The basics. Reading, Writing, Math, History, Computers, Gym, Art.
Where were you geographically?
I lived in Roxborough, school was in Mount Airy.
 

Da Orky Man

Yeah, that's me
Apr 24, 2011
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It was in a town of about 3000 people in rural mid-Wales. My year had 6 people in it, and the year below about 12, though its quite common to have primary schools with less than 20 pupils in them around here. Subjects were the same as anywhere else eg science, maths, English, geography, history. We also had lessons in Welsh, the language known as being nigh-on impossible to pronounce without either growing up in Wales or a hearty chest cold.
 

BathorysGraveland2

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Well, I live in a rural area of Tasmania, AU. The town in which I live has about 290 population. It has a school, which I attended for all my life, that also supports the other small towns nearby. It was a combined primary/high school, and at one time even supported the 11th and 12th grades. I believe the average number of students totaled 150. The biggest class in the school would consist of around 20-25 people.

My experience there was one of a mixed bag. Nothing was taken too seriously there, except sport. If you played football, you had it made. If you didn't, you were kind of treat like the quiet kid in the corner. It was relatively safe though, not much bullshit happened there. The worst bullying really consisted of name-calling, a little but of teasing and that's about it. Nothing overly serious like what seems to happen in bigger schools.

The school was rather lacking in subjects. There were the usual subjects of: English, mathematics and science (the latter two of which I am still terrible at today), and there was also wood and metal work, though they never interested me. Whenever there was history, it was always about fucking aboriginal history and how terrible we white people are, so that was a dropped ball subject as well. Beyond that, there wasn't much, and what there was, wasn't terribly in-depth. Though I blame myself more than the school, for being the typical kid that didn't stick in and thought of nothing but going home at 3:00 PM. Which would probably point to my sub-par intelligence today. I guess it'd be a combination of my own fault, and the less than stellar school.

So yeah, that seems to be about it, I guess.
 

TheYellowCellPhone

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Sep 26, 2009
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What was your elementary school experience like?

Well, hindsight tells me it blew pretty bad, but I sort of enjoyed it then. It was school, of course I didn't like it as much as staying home. What made it suck and what made it fun wasn't specific to small towns, it was a pretty general experience you get. You know - learning other people can be monsters, feeling like you learned nothing academically, deep regrets and guilt for the actions you did, realization that the teacher doesn't know everything.

The experience?

We had one teacher who taught us the bare minimum of everything and we never left the classroom except for lunch. On Fridays, or on some days where we had extra time or we were at an exciting moment in a story, we would read from some classic kid's books - Judy Bloom's Superfude, Beverly Cleary's The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Avi's Poppy, Ann M. Martin's The Doll People, Gertrude Warner's The Boxcar Children, or Ron Roy's A to Z Mysteries. We ate lunch in our gymnasium based on a heirarchy of age: kindergarteners (ages 5-6) ate first, then the first and second graders (6-8), all the way up to fifth graders (10-11). Once a week we went to different rooms in the school (LINE LEADER STYLE) and had a special, usually close to retiring teacher, who would force us to sing or draw our interpretations of American Gothic. There were slotted pockets in the back of class where we would put our economics or social study books, every classroom had a huge library of books that you could check out one at a time with the teacher who loved to see others reading (and you never took out books without the telling the teacher because the hood life was not for you), we all had chipped desks that opened and you could put stuff inside, we had bookbags hanging on hooks that we would keep our snacktime snacks in, there was carpets on the ground that labeled various shapes like parallelograms and circles, usually on the walls there were long strips of posterboard that had the alphabet and the numbers between one and one hundred, some world maps, a globe of the world that nobody knew how to even find America on, the chalkboard and occasional projector that was being faded out by the SmartBoard...

We had spelling tests once a week on how to spell words like classify and [/i]often[/i] (but we didn't need to know the meaning, spelling tests were the teacher orally saying the words while you wrote it down), the only math we did was all done on worksheets, some lucky days we watched a movie based on a book we read like The Magic School Bus, we learned of the American Revolution and the locations of fifty states, by fourth grade we learned basic multiplication and by fifth grade I could do long division faster than most in my class (none of that decimal bullshits, we did remainders!), in science we learned about the water cycle and the three states of matter and the fact that the world is made entirely of atoms, one day in fourth grade if your parents signed a paper a sex education speaker came in who gave the boys deodorant, the girls pads, and all of us a small pamphlet with Q&A saying why does it hurt when I get kneed in the balls; in fifth grade we took PLUS anti-drug class, where they gave us dark blue folders with PLUS's golden logo on the front, and they told us about cigarettes and alcohol and barbiturates, then about the importance of paying attention to people and other life skills -- after a few once-a-week classes with that overweight 'officer' who looked kind of like your mom, you went to a 'graduation' at the high school auditorium where you sat and watched some future-drama club members perform 'just say no' skits, and in the end all you got was a slip of paper that they said would work as some sort of "resume spicer" -- but you were old enough to know that PLUS wasn't fun, no matter how many lime-green erasers and free pencils you got out of their various activities, and you PLUS would only return in seventh grade, and PLUS would fade into Health class; every week your music teacher gave you lyric sheets and played a recording of some corny song and you were intended to sing along like you sing to your radio, and twice a year we would do that in the high school auditorium without the music while the rest of the elementary school sat in the audience, and as you reflect on that, you really didn't give the music teacher the respect that they deserved when they tried getting you to listen to Beethoven and Scott Joplin; if you were in fifth grade and your parents had a bit of money, once a week you would go down to the music teacher again and he would teach you and the others how to play the alto saxophone or trumpet or trombone or flute or clarinet, but all the girls played flute and most of the boys played alto saxophone; the art teacher showed us tricks like the perspective road, and sometimes when we were reading about Squanto in class she would have a project where we drew pictures of Native Americans and we glued feathers to their foreheads.

Your friends probably changed little between kindergarten and fifth grade but changed a shitton (like you) by high school. Everyone liked playing and watching Pokemon, hardly anyone talked to the opposite sex, you hardly stepped out of line with them except for trying to walk in the woods during recess, you probably read the same books but didn't suggest anything to them, rarely you would bail them out when they forgot lunch because the lunch ladies were nice and accepted an I.O.U. if you had no lunch.

How big of a town did you live in?

Classic suburban neighborhood, we lived on the edge of an average sized city. According to the Internet, the population is a little below 20,000 by 2010, but I hardly felt any excitement from the city because it was a ways away.

How many kids were in your average classroom?

Two classrooms per grade. Lowest had around 20, highest was closer to thirty. That was over a span of six years in six different classrooms.

What kind of subjects were on the curriculum?

Science, basic Economics, Reading, English, Social Studies (a combination of History and Geography), Art, Gym, Music, Mathematics. Classes like Gym, Art, Computer, and Music were done once a week. Everyday we did the big four subjects - Mathematics, Social Studies, Reading/English, Science.

Where were you geographically?

I live in a town about an hour's drive outside of Cleveland, Ohio. Lake Erie is around twenty minutes to the north. It's the furthest east a state can be while still being considered midwestern.
 

DANEgerous

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As for High school (8th-12th grade) it is the only one I went to for the full 4 years as i moved around a lot in elementary and middle school i had a HUGE like 5000 students MASSIVE OVERLOAD LETS BUILD 3 MORE SCHOOLS HUGE class. It was in Cypress (just north of Houston) Texas and was and is once more consistently one of the top schools in the state. I never has any of the problems "Bible Belt" type schools can have which in this case is sad beacuse they can give off some stories (i will get to some i found). Anyway my school was Cypress Fairbanks a very old school I went from 2001-2005 and despite being rather smart got put in special education due to a disability I have that make my hand writing illegible even to me, it is called dysgraphia (you can Google it if you want) and was a major par of my schooling but no longer would be because of computers. This made me a rather arrogant gruff thick skinned loner who had a small but very tight group of friends.

I loved school I even love Cy-fair to this day and even make visits to my old and loved teachers each Christmas. I was a total nerd and outcast an tended to like it as I did have my small group of friends all of whom I still talk to and man of whom i still visit till this day 8 years later.
 

GeneralBigG

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Jun 26, 2012
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I went to a Catholic primary school in a small borough of a small-medium sized town in central England. I also went to a Catholic high school. In total, I spent 15 years in Catholic education and let me tell you, when I went to uni and started talking to people who had been educated in Anglican/non-denominational schools, it freaked me out. Not in terms of science and stuff, but in terms of religious education. They had NO idea of Catholic rituals, mass, prayers, etc. It was so weird to consider that my entire education was so different to all my new friends.
 

EeveeElectro

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Aug 3, 2008
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What was your elementary school experience like?

Much better than secondary school. I do remember being bullied a lot but it was nothing compared to how ruthless people are when they're older. Even now my niece tells me little tales about her being picked on and it sounds so petty but obviously it means more to kids than it does to us.
Pretty much all of the teachers liked me because I was a sweet and well behaved kid. I didn't have many friends because I've always been really awkward but I had a few which made things easier. They started doing a social club where people who didn't want to go outside would spend lunchtimes inside listening to music or whatever they wanted.
They ended up making another building next to the school after knocking down the middle school which was in the next field, so I went from primary school to middle school for half a year, then back to primary.
They changed the system just as I finished, so high school started in year 7 (aged 11) rather than year 9 (aged 13) like before. years 7-9 used to be referred to as middle school.

How big of a town did you live in?

290,00+ (wow, that many people live in this shit hole?)

How many kids were in your average classroom?

I think, maybe 25-30?

What kind of subjects were on the curriculum?

English, Science, Maths, History, Geography (which was only taught about once a month or something :s), P.E (gym, Americans may call it), ICT and in the final 2 years, they taught us French.

Where were you geographically?

A city in Yorkshire, England.

Bonus fun fact. I went to the same primary school as David Hockney. They WOULD NOT let us forget it ;_;
 

woodsymoments

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Oct 21, 2009
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What was your elementary school experience like?

I went to a private school and at the time i didnt realise that public schools were very different. The teacher quality was great and the class sizes were small only 14 children and the other kids i went with were friendly and the primary and secondary schools were on the same campus so you could mix with the older students if they came onto the playground. The food was always terrible but being a private school the equipment was always very good

How big of a town did you live in?

A large city in England called Manchester

How many kids were in your average classroom?

14 they were very small

What kind of subjects were on the curriculum?

English, Science, Maths, History, Geography , P.E ,French and music.
 

shootthebandit

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May 20, 2009
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Da Orky Man said:
Welsh, the language known as being nigh-on impossible to pronounce without either growing up in Wales or a hearty chest cold.
tell me about it i lived in holyhead (about as far as you go in north wales before you hit the irish sea) for a year and a lot of the lads i worked with spoke welsh as their native tongue and a lot of people in town couldnt speak english. and the road signs, by the time i read the english bit i missed my turn off

anyway in a year all i learned was gotsan blewog
 

Zhukov

The Laughing Arsehole
Dec 29, 2009
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BathorysGraveland2 said:
Well, I live in a rural area of Tasmania, AU.
Whoa, whoa, whoa.

Another Tasmanian on the Escapist? Do mine eyes deceive me?
 

Wadders

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This is education from around ages 4/5 - 11 yeah? That's what I understand primary school as...

* Type of School: Church of England. So we sang hymns and went to Church a fair bit, and learned the basics of the Bible. None of it really rubbed off on me, but it didn't fill me with reactionary hatred toward the Church either. Founded in 1675, so we got to learn in some cool old buildings.

* Experience: Pretty tidy, from what I remember. Didn't get bullied, didn't get in trouble too much. When I was like 9 and moved up a class, the teacher (who happened to be the Head) took an instant dislike to me for no reason, and yelled at me several times for next to nothing, getting right in my face and yelling. No idea why, as I've always been well-behaved. He even threw a chair across the room once whilst bawling at me. Not very pleasant when you're a 9 year old, and I got very upset and didn't want to go to school any more.

Then all of a sudden that stopped and he was nice as anything. Not sure if my parents complained - if they did, they never let me know. He might have stopped picking on me but then he just found a new target. Total **** of a bloke - someone's Dad hit him once, which was great.

* Size town: Village, really. About 350 people. Very small, very local.

* Class size: I guess around 15-20. We got a pretty good staff:pupil ratio too.

* Subjects: The aforementioned religious stuff. Not much in the way of Dinosaurs or prehistoric stuff, as you would imagine, out Headteacher was something of a creationist, as well as a massive bellend. Other than that, the usual; maths, IT, Science, PE, History etc.

* Location: A small village in Shropshire, England. Near to the border with Wales.
 

MeChaNiZ3D

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It was in Sydney, so not small-town exactly. Main things were classes of 30, one teacher per class per year as opposed to different teachers for different subjects (although specifics like Italian and...recorder...were taken by another teacher), we had Maths, English, Music, Art, P.E., Italian, some History, not very clearly structured though, and Assembly on Fridays which involved everyone in the gym on the floor listening to boring shit. Occasionally we'd have an excursion, or some sort of music or health group would visit. In the later years we had a system where you could submit an idea and then argue about it in Assembly, some sort of primitive debate, which was decent. At one stage the Department of Education and Training wanted to cut down a landmark tree and put a classroom there. I submitted a notion that it would not be cut down. I was one of the three people who spoke for the notion, and at the end we had a vote, and overwhelmingly the tree would stay. Then the principal came in and said as nice as that was, the DET could do whatever they wanted, and they did.
 

Hero of Lime

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Jun 3, 2013
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Elementary School: From kindergarten through 8th grade I went to Catholic school in southern California, great experience overall, my teachers had no tolerance for bullying so if a kid was picked on, the bully would be disciplined quickly. Went to a Catholic High School the next town over where I live now.

Size of Hometown: Corona California at this point about 156,000 people so fairly big.

Class size: 25-30 being a private school we had about 650 kids in the school, I'm sure public schools in Corona are a lot bigger but for me it was 25-30.

Curriculum: Education and classes were great overall, Math, Science, Reading, Grammar, Religion, Computer, Gym, and History classes, so the whole sha-bang!

Geography: Southern California, I live in Riverside, about an hour from Los Angeles for reference. I don't know if you want the landscape, but it's all valleys and mountains, beaches, deserts, and forests are about an hour away in all directions.
 

grey_space

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Apr 16, 2012
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I went to a very small rural primary school. Only three teachers. They respectively taught three, two, and three classes each, so there was up to three different 'years' in the one room all studying various subject together.

Class size was about 10 but there was up to 30 pupils in the room at any one time.

Being in Ireland It was a catholic school so Religion was mandatory for all ages.

Irish, English, Maths, Art occasionally, History and Geography once you got into 4th class (about 9-10)

PE was mandatory enlistment into the Schools Gaelic Football Team.


Woe betide any kid in a younger year that displayed any academic ability that 'showed up' any of the older kids.

One guy got beaten up on break every day for almost a term because the teacher got him to read a passage that an older kid couldn't.

At the end of the day going home because of budget cuts there was only one bus but obviously the road went in two directions. So the kids going south went home straight away, while the kids going north had to wait up to an hour unsupervised for the bus to drop all the other kids off and then come back to the school and pick them up.

This didn't quite lead to a 'Lord of the Flies' situation but for a while to pass the time one lovely young man used to engineer 'hunts' where all the kids on the northern bus had to chase down one or two of their own and then bring them to him for a beating. Fights were a regular occurrence, even though we were all neighbours and our parents knew each other very well.

Any kid with an older brother did ok but any child without protection got beaten at least once a day, Either in a fight with a peer or by an older kid.

We used go get the younger kids to climb up the goal post of the football pitch and then we as a group would shake the crap out of the posts trying to knock them off.

Climbing onto the roof of the school and dropping stuff on the other kids beneath was another popular pastime.


Ah the memories....

edited to give more actual info
 

Gameguy20100

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Sep 6, 2012
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I went to north crescent In wickford please if you live in england do not send your children there it is a shithole.
 

Esotera

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I'm not from the US but I've been in a whole load of different schools (which cover pretty much all of the school systems in the UK). Most of them are in relatively large towns (5,000 - 10,000) but no cities.

Infant school: this covers 5-7 year olds, I guess it was cool not having to deal with older kids. We had some pretty large fields and a pond that we used sometimes.

Primary school: I only went there for a year but really enjoyed it. We seemed to cover a lot of history which involved being read stories about Vikings, and we got sent to mass every friday afternoon as it was a Catholic school. I also did my first Holy Communion through a program at the school/church.

Infant school (middle school system): (for a year again) this was quite cool as only 5-10 year olds are allowed, and that meant I was oldest. Again this was a Catholic school and therefore we had mass every friday afternoon, and I was recruited as an altar boy.

Middle school: (for a year) this was in a slightly bigger town and meant I had to get a bus to get there each day. I think the age range was 11-14, and that was a bit weird compared to other systems everyone was using.

Primary school: (for a year) probably the largest school I've been to. I started getting into video games round then and made some friends that I still keep in contact with to this day. There were also a lot more field trips.

College: (11-16) a lot of memories, some are great, some are bad. I learnt a lot there and it's the longest I've been in one place.

I could cover sixth form/university but I really don't have time :p
 
Oct 10, 2011
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What was your elementary school experience like?

Kindergarden through 3rd grade was pretty good I guess, but I was always the quiet one in the class

4th and 5th were the worst time of my life. Problems at home caused my grades to drop. My teachers knew exactly what was happening, yet they publically humiliated me, held me after class every day and yelled at me until I cried and then some, and tried to get me expelled. They were pretty old, and were the kind of teachers that would have beaten the students constantly if it wasn't illegal.

And due to some brilliant California legislation, they cannot be removed from thier job for anything short of a felony unless it iis of thier own accord. Good memories, yeah.

Edit: Just remembered that my kindergarden teacher was extremely racist against white kids, which I happened to be. And suprise suprise, she couldn't be fired either.


How big of a town did you live in?

About 20,000 people at the time

How many kids were in your average classroom?

30-35

What kind of subjects were on the curriculum?

English, US history and math. That is it. Impressive, huh?

Where were you geographically?

Western Central California.
 

The Wykydtron

"Emotions are very important!"
Sep 23, 2010
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It was a super religious Protestant school with a Church of England right outside the school gates. Monthly church visits. Joy. It was in a small village a few miles outside Walsall.

It must say something about me that whenever I listened to one of the many Jesus related stories my mind was immediately taking it not-literally and assuming that everything was just a metaphor. I was 5 and already had my thoughts about religion set up and running.

Apart from hymns every single morning the classes were ok, class size was around 20 and the subjects were your standard Maths, English, more religious stuff etc etc.