Secret Subject Swap August 8th, 2014

Today I am among 14 wonderful bloggers who signed up for August's Secret Subject Swap. This week bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in our own style.

And here is where you get to enjoy--today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts!

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In a Tornado
The Momisodes
Spatulas on Parade
Confessions of a part-time working mom
Juicebox Confession
Evil Joy Speaks
Sparkly Poetic Weirdo
Follow me home . . .
Someone Else’s Genius
Crumpets and Bollocks
Stacy Sews and Schools
The Bergham’s Life Chronicles
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

My “Secret Subject” is: What are the most / least important and valuable things you learned in school?

It was submitted by: Confessions of a part-time working mom (Thank you Tamara!!!)

I went to a private school until 8th grade. When I got to high school I knew very few people. I went from a class of 22 people that I had known since kindergarten to a class of 400.

That was a beautifully awkward learning expierence.

I thought for sure that every person that was in that school already had it figured out. High school was a breeze for them because they came from bigger schools. They were not fazed by anything.

They were just as intimidated, confused and felt just as out of their skin as I did.

Even those with the biggest bravados had some form of insecurities raging through their adolescent, hormone riddled bodies.

You know what?

I hate to say this, but it is pretty much the same in adulthood. We think everyone has it figured it out. We are positive we are screwing things up. But the reality is, everyone is muddling through the same way, disoriented, confused and wondering where life is going to take them.

That is why it is so important to be nice to one another-then and now-because everyone is dealing with something.

The least important things I learned at school? The actual subjects.

I am not being trying to not come off condescending, but I feel that is the truth. The material I was learning in my freshman and sophomore years I had already learned in junior high school at my private school.

That is not the only reason I say that. I asked for harder classes, AP classes and took them and felt challenged and absolutely loved them.

If you want to learn something, if you want to enrich your life with knowledge, I believe you do not necessarily need school. You can learn on your own. You can nuture your inquistive soul by reading and expiermenting.

The most valuable lesson I learned in high school came at the end of my high school career.

I did not graduate on time.

I did not walk with my class.

Chemistry class was the struggle my senior year. I needed to pass chemistry to graduate. I could not learn the way my teacher was teaching me. I just could not. I took notes, I paid attention, I asked questions, and still I was failing my first semester of chemistry.

I decided to take a chemistry class in an afterschool program in a town over. The credits would transfer and it would replace the chemistry class I was failing at school. I had to miss work but it was worth it if it meant I could graduate on time. It was a completely different atmosphere, laid back and open. I took my time, absorbed the material, aced the tests.

I thrived.

My mother and my after school teacher both could not understand why I was flunking chemistry at school. They thought I just was not giving it my all. Maybe I was attention seeking. They thought even though I had never given into those kind of behaviors before, maybe it was an act of rebellion.

After I passed the first semester of chemistry in my afterschool chemistry class, after I aced it, the teacher and my mother both decided I did not need to continue there. They sat down with me and told me I would be fine in my second semsester at my high school since I did phenomenally in this course.

I knew I would not be fine. I knew I would flunk like I did the first semester.

But I said nothing.

And I flunked.

Everyone was flabbergasted.

My mom could not understand, my chemistry teacher in high school found it unbelievable that I had passed my first semester at the after school program, and my after school teacher felt horrible. He said he would have encouraged me to stay in if he knew I was not going to graduate.

I had no one to blame but myself.

If I had simply opened my mouth and voiced my concern and put my foot down I would have continued on in that course afterschool and been fine.

I did not though. I let others perception of me rule me. I valued their opinion of me and what I could do make my choices. I ignored the nagging feeling that forced me to stay awake at nights.

So instead of enjoying my last summer before college, I spent my summer taking a chemistry class to make up for my second semester of chemistry and working so I could have money for college.

It was brutal but it taught me to always say what is on my mind and fight for myself.

There are so many valuable things I learned and none of them had to do with classes.

I learned that if I wanted to do something that I should do it.

Do not wait. Never wait for someone to suggest what you want to do or simply follow the crowd. That is the easiest way to make yourself unhappy. I loved poetry and writing in high school. I still love it. I waited until my junior year to join a club that I absolutely adored because I was worried I would not fit in.

Biggest mistake in my life was waiting so long-- I fell in love with that club, with the people, with the crazy things we did. It gave me a sense of self confidence, a burst of courage, a feeling of belonging. Simply put, it was amazing.

Speak up. Too many times I stayed quiet during school when I knew the answers, when someone was picking on someone else, when I wanted to volunteer but forced my hand not to fly up into the air, when I wanted to continue in a class so I could graduate. I am not sure exactly where I found my voice but I am glad I did.

And finally, it taught me you could be anyone you wanted to be. There are no cliques. There are no groups. There are no labels. Except the ones we agree to conform to. I guess I was a dork or a nerd in high school. I loved to learn, I was quiet, I had good grades, I loved punk, ska and heavy metal, I had a variety of friends from different 'cliques'. I flitted from one to another, I accepted and loved everyone. I guess I refused to pick a side, pick a group, because I did not think we needed to be stuck in one.

I still am that way. Some of my friends are the preppiest, organized, people in the world and others are the most down to earth loving, hippie souls ever.

I am just glad I had the learning experience and equally glad it is over. I learned that we can learn anytime we want and that, thankfully, we learn and grow from every experience we have.


  1. It's amazing the different paths we all have to take to get to where we are today. I was a public school teacher for years and now I homeschool my son. I'm glad life isn't made of cookie-cutter choices.
    Your posts are so thoughtful, Jenn. I'm glad you're part of the swap :)

    1. Cookie-cutter lifestyles just aren't fun in any way.

      How awesome is it that you were able to get a taste of both worlds--public school and homeschooling--and able to make an impact in our youth!

      Thank you for your kind words :)

  2. You and I would have been friends in high school. :)

    It wasn't chemistry for me - it was algebra 2. I hate math. I do well in math, but I really do hate it. For the record.

    And there is nothing wrong with punk, ska, or metal. Just saying. ;)

    1. Oh, trust me... I know there's nothing wrong with those genres ;)

      I think you're right we would have been friends in high school. I love math, English...okay I love it all. Chem my senior year just tripped me up. Even though I loved it in college, I still consider Chemistry my nemesis.

  3. LOVE THIS SOOOOOOOOOO MUCH!!!!! I agree with absolutely every part of it!!!
    For me, it was Geometry. I just couldn't wrap my head around proofs! The rest of it was a breeze but I barely passed the class.

    1. Thank you Stacy!

      I loved Geometry, I think mainly because our teacher was awesome and took us on field trips (even to Chicago) so we could see how geometry worked in the real world. It was actually almost like an architecture class too the way our teacher pointed out how important geometry was in construction...she was pretty darn cool though, she got us involved.

  4. Sometimes the things that we learn aren't the things we're being taught specifically, but the insight we gather along the way. I'm sorry that you struggled, but I admire who it made you become.

    1. Thank you Karen. It may sound odd, but I am glad it went the way it did. My world did not implode because I did not walk with my class or graduate on time, it made it a little difficult but who doesn't love a challenge?

  5. This is one of the reasons I homeschool Evan. It just makes sense for him. He's supposed to be in 3rd grade this year but he's doing work that is far above that. It's amazing to see him thrive in an environment that is conducive to the way he learns. And you're right...we can teach ourselves the subject matter we're supposed to learn in high school. I have known people who didn't get beyond an 8th grade education in school who teach me new things all the time.... Sometimes the personal lessons are the most valuable ones!

    1. Some of the people who have taught me the most genius stuff, are people I have worked with or volunteered with at the mission and many have dropped out of school at an early age.

      I was lucky in the sense that the school I went to prior to high school was very driven when it came to academics and that the high school had challenging classes--you just had to request them. But I was even luckier I had a mom that pushed me and challenged me to learn more than what was in the syllabus or lesson plans.

      I truly believe people learn different ways and I know quite a few children that thrive being home schooled but could not grasp the material in public/private schools. I myself, am not really a hands-on learner. I need to write stuff down, read it a couple times, ask questions, know why it works the way it does. Visually seeing it doesn't help me sometimes. I am just an odd duck that way.

  6. Fantastic post, I LOVE what you did with my simple question!

    You have made valuable life experiences through your chemistry ordeal. As painful as it must have been not being able to graduate with your classmates, you will always remember to go for what you like, to speak up and to be true to yourself!

    1. It definitely did teach me to speak my mind...much to people's horror I think because I almost never shut up :)

      Thank you for the great prompt!

  7. I'm sorry for your experience, but it has shaped who you are. I have learned...too late in speak up and say what I need to for myself and my family...

    1. I definitely am glad for the lesson.

      It's always better to speak up for ourselves and our loved ones than to let things slide-although it may have come later kudos to you for finding your voice for your loved ones Karen.

  8. I too went from a small private school to a huge public school. I remember the day. September 4, 1990. I started 7th grade, the year you started Junior High School back then. My GPA dropped for quite a few years. It was probably the most difficult adjustment I had to make as a kid. It wasn't just the social changes, but also I went to a Christian school where kids were nicer. There weren't fights. I saw my first black eye in the first month at that new school. I had nightmares from it. But also the learning style was different. I was so used to reading on my own, doing my own work, learning at my own pace, that I had a hard time adjusting to a lecture, and most importantly, answering questions the way the teachers wanted them answered as opposed to answering them correctly like we did in grade school. Public education is not that awesome, and I think only people who've done the private school thing gets that.

    1. Michelle, it is a complete culture shock.

      Trying to conform to a structured learning style is difficult especially if you're coming from a learn-at-your-pace-place. Some people learn differently -I am the kind of person who needs to ask a million questions and take constant notes.

      Once I found the classes that challenged me I was okay, but the regular curriculum was not my cup of tea!

      Thanks for stopping by :-)

  9. I think this does not want to let me comment...

    I loved your post!!! I think you did an amazing job with your prompt!!! I agree with you completely!!! The most valuable things I learned in high school, had nothing to do with the actual subjects themselves. I was the opposite of you. I went to public school until high school. I attended an all girl, Catholic high school. It was a blessing and a curse.

    1. Thank you Jules-I'm glad it finally let you comment ;-)

      I can totally see how it could have been a blessing and a curse!


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