When I was growing up, the movies always made high school seem like the golden years, the happiest years a young person could have. Carefree, discovering love and making lasting friendships, all American Graffiti.
These days, high school is usually portrayed as a cesspool of the worst kind of human behaviour, where all that is evil thrives and is amplified, and you are either a bully or bullied. My son and husband have been watching the second season of 13 Reasons Why on Netflix, and don’t get me wrong – it is interesting and engrossing and has led to lots of interesting discussion around here. But between that, and Riverdale, and even things like Glee, the whole picture of high school life is pretty grim. The heroes are constantly getting stomped on, and the elites seem like all they know how to do is exploit power and take advantage of people. Where are the average people who are just trying to figure it all out? Where are my modern day Napoleon Dynamites and Freaks and Geeks?
Anyway, that is not the point of this post. My point here is that although I do not look back at high school with some kind of rosy glow, it was a pretty good time for me. I was on the outside of most of the usual drama and I was super active in clubs and activities, so I had a lot of fun and made some good friends and learned some great stuff. It was overall pretty positive, I’d say.
So now that my two older kids are in high school, I find myself getting wistful – not for the social stuff or the activities, but for the learning.
I remember a lot of memorization of facts kind of stuff, but the stuff they are doing now? It’s so cool!
(They might not quite feel the same way.)
Some of their teachers are really creative and smart and engaging. For example, in history class, my son had an assignment to take a real life, Canadian WWII soldier, read his file (available in the Canadian archives), and then “become” that guy for a week – know everything about him, write his diary entries, present a talk as if he were that soldier. So cool, am I right?
And in English class, he’s reading Lord of the Flies (ugh), but at least his teacher has tried to liven things up by grouping his class into “islands” where they will have to complete a variety of survival challenges as a group. They even got to name their island and then design a flag for it – FLAG DESIGN, I am swooning.
In Gal Smiley’s English class, they are reading Romeo and Juliet. They are reading the old English in parallel with the graphic novel, and then once they are done both they will be making a Spotify playlist to parallel every scene in the play. Which, seriously, SO COOL.
In Geography, she went on a nature hike to examine local rocks; in gym class they are taking self-defense and getting CPR training. In drama, the Captain had a day-long fake fighting seminar and in computer science he’s writing a video game for kids in grade 3 at a nearby school, incorporating their own artwork.
I mean, I liked high school, and I don’t remember it being anywhere near as fun and interesting as all this. Makes me want to throw a party for all their teachers, who are rocking it.
(Also perhaps said party will buy me the ability to sit in and audit all their classes because – SO COOL.)