Sunday, January 29, 2006

My Story - Education's Not Bad

This gets me to the part of the story I know well.

I was born in 1968, in Orlando Florida. This was a good place to be at that time. When the Apollo moon shots would be launched, we'd watch them lift off the pad on TV, and run outside to the driveway. The road in front of our house ran east-west, and down the street was a small lake. (Yeah, yeah, it's Florida. There's at least a small lake at the end of every street.) So we had a perfect view of the rockets rising above the horizon. We could watch them for a pretty long time. I'm told that when I was little I would want to run outside whenever I saw the replays on TV. I was hooked on science and technology right from the start!

As far as I know, I didn't display any great genius at the start. I started talking kind of late, I'm told, but when I did start it was in full sentences and paragraphs. I must have liked it because once I started, I never shut up. I was a fairly good student, but not spectacular. I was also a happy child, which would amaze anyone who has only known me as an adult. I did take up chess at a young age, but this was the years of the Fischer Boom, lots of people of all ages took up the game. Nothing really notable.

In fact, at the time Orange County did have an active gifted student program. All first grade students would be given a preliminary test. Those that did well enough would be given another, much more individualized test. (I now know the second test was an IQ test of some variety.) Well, needless to say, when I took the first test I ... Didn't do very well! There was to be no second test for me, and no gifted program. I don't remember any disappointment, as we were too young to really know what was going on. We just knew it was another test to take, so we took it. I doubt we were even told there were any consequences.

When Third Grade came around, I was fortunate enough to get Mrs. Pinder as my teacher. She was great! Very friendly, very interested in her students, very good.

Once again we were given a batch of standardized tests. These were the tests given to all third graders nation-wide, I believe. I scored through the roof - above the 95% percentile in most categories. I seem to remember a 99 or two, but also one score down around 90. Between those scores and Mrs. Pinder's insistence I was eventually given the second part of the gifted test in Fourth Grade. I thought at the time it was my Fourth Grade teacher who had pushed for this, but many years later my mother corrected me. It is amazing how oblivious children can be, given what sponges they are.

Well, this time I tested quite well indeed, and they put me in the gifted program. Which really didn't mean much of anything. I said the program was active, not extensive. So for a few hours every week we got to go to another classroom to be taught some of this, and some of that, and be exposed to a wider variety of material than most students. A nice change of pace from the usual stuff.

But it was around this time that things started to go south for me in school....

No comments: