Importance Of My Public School Education Experience

1599 Words 6 Pages
My public school education experience began in 1976 and concluded in 1989. Between 1975 and the early spring of 1980 I attended school in a Maryland suburb of Washington, DC. The spring of 1980, my family moved to what was at that time a very rural Spotsylvania County, Virginia where I would complete my public education experience. My school experiences, including those involving STEM stand in stark contrast to the experiences I provide for my students.
My elementary teachers relied heavily upon textbooks and mimeographed worksheets for all instruction. Math was taught in a formulaic manner that did not foster an understanding of math concepts. Through drill and kill, students were required to memorize basic computational facts. Standard
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The reality was that much of the instruction revolved around textbooks and memorization. A few highly scripted hands on activities, mainly involving biology, continued to spark my interest in science. Math remained formulaic and focused on kill and drill. Following my struggles in fifth grade, I was able to make some significant gains throughout middle school math. Technology was booming, especially the computer industry. Exposure to personal computers in school was highly limited. The school had one computer room and the only time we used the computer was to play the game Oregon Trail. I did not touch a computer again until I was in college. The other opportunity for technology was in Shop. During this class, we used belt sanders and drill presses to assemble wooden toy kits. In spite of these experiences my fascination with flight and in particular space flight continued to grow because of two influences, the media and my father. My father was the paramount influence in my decision to pursue a STEM career. My father, a STEM degree dropout, worked in the defense industry and provided some insight into the types of careers available. In the eighth grade based upon my interest, he concluded that I should pursue a career as an aerospace …show more content…
However, these labs had little to do with discovery or employing the scientific method. We were required to write lab reports where I pretended to make a hypothesis, while I typically knew the expected outcome. In fact, grades were dependent upon achieving the desired outcome by following a scripted lab process that the teachers had employed for many years. My interest in chemistry seriously flagged when I had a medical issue that required hospitalization. I was disenrolled from my school for two weeks and essentially left to instruct myself. When I asked my teacher for assistance upon my return, she told me it was not her responsibility, this was before the widespread use of the internet and computers. The only resource I had was a teacher who refused to help and a textbook I did not understand. I came to the erroneous conclusion that chemistry was not necessary for my career aspirations, as an aerospace engineer. I continued to take biology to the AP level due to enjoyment of the course and a lack of courses available in other science disciplines. My senior year I enthusiastically enrolled in the only physics course available. While I have fond memories of this course and the teacher, there were significant shortcomings. Due in large part to a lack of resources we did not engage in hands-on learning experiences. I struggled through math, performing well enough until my senior

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