School Abused Me For 10 Years

Do I seem stupid to you? As an author of multiple books, an entrepreneur who started her own business operations in her late teens, do I seem like a simpleton?
Probably not.
Then why, looking back to fourth and fifth grade, was I the worst in the class in multiple subjects? Why was I last in foreign language, last in history, last in reading comprehension, last in spelling, last in gym, and nearly last in “form drawing” which is a special little subject that only exists in Waldorf schools so far as I know. I was also last in “handwork” class and music to boot.
Math was the only subject where I was excelling.
In first grade I was at a public school, and the story was much the same. I wasn’t “the worst” in all of those subjects, but I was near to it. And this wasn’t because I was busy socializing. I didn’t have friends and didn’t know how to make them either.
I was labeled a trouble-maker. My fifth grade school told my parents it was mandatory for me to get professional help or I would be expelled from the school. So I was sent to a counselor, who frankly, made me feel even worse.

Raederle, 5th Grade Photo

Raederle, Age 12
I hated school. I loved learning. I loved when my mother read aloud to me. I loved watching the history channel, particularly when they featured archaeological findings relevant to ancient Egypt. I loved writing, even though I was slow to read. I wasn’t reading of my own volition until I was sixteen. Yet by the time I was thirteen I had typed a two-hundred page novel. (That’s right, a full, two-hundred page document, which would be similar to a four-hundred page paperback in length.)
At the age of twelve I wanted to work. I had learned to touch-type and I thought perhaps I could become someone’s secretary in my free time to earn some money. I was devastated when I learned that I couldn’t get work until I was sixteen.
Before I reached sixteen I found a single area of my life where I could pursue what I wanted – at least covertly. That area of my life was intimate love. Unable to pursue a curriculum that interested me, or a career that interested me, I pursued boys with a passion. I was terribly lonely, and so I fell into the arms of any boy would have me.
At fourteen I lucked out with my first real love. Two years together remolded me and taught me some of the most valuable lessons of my life. In two years of sneaking out of the house, staying up late together, and working out our vast differences I learned more than I had ever learned from school.
I learned more about history from the historical fiction I’ve read in my leisure than I ever learned in history classes. I’ve learned more about English by simply reading the books I enjoy reading than I ever did in English class. I learned more about writing from my mother than I ever did in school. And the most critical things I learned in life aren’t even school subjects.
Reflecting back on school makes me angry and sad. When I think about those horror-filled years, I recognize now that I was abused for the majority of my childhood. The institution of schooling was my abuser. It tried to take my personality away. It tried to take my dreams away. It tried to tell me that it wasn’t okay for me to be passionate, or for me to love. It tried to convince me that I was stupid and valueless.
And how could it do anything else?
Give absolute authority to someone who does not love the person or things they have authority over, and watch what happens. School teachers do not love their students. Often they resent them. Most school teachers I had barely masked their dislike of me, at best. In High School there were some exceptions.

Raederle, Age 16

Raederle, Age 18
Throughout high school my art teachers liked me, probably because I paid rapt attention and made an effort to do my best work.
In ninth grade my biology teacher was rather fond of me. She was energetic and friendly, and I caught on quickly. I found the biology book less tedious than most text books and for once was able to retain some of what I read. (My usual experience was less than 5% retention of what I read in a text book.) I enjoyed biology enough to type detailed notes and I printed extra copies for some of my classmates who were astonished.
My biology teacher liked me so much that she nominated me student of the month and let me teach her class at times. To everyone’s amazement, the class did significantly better on tests when I reviewed with them, so the teacher had me help the class review on multiple occasions after the first success.
What was the difference?
My biology teacher and I liked each other. It is as a simple as that.

Raederle, Age 22
In the real world we could have been friends, and thereby, we could work well together. The idea of forcing people together who don’t want to be together and then expecting them to learn is monstrous. The idea that children should want to “sit still” for six or more hours and actually be able to “pay attention” is disgusting.

Raederle, Age 15
I realize now that reading about the school system upsets me so much because I’m revisiting trauma. I realize now that the subject of the school system comes up and becomes a heated debate in circle after circle of people I encounter because we’re all revisiting trauma.
There is virtually no such thing as a stupid child – only a child that is prevented from its own ambitions, dreams, interests and volition. There is no such thing as a lazy child or adult – only people who believe they can not have what they want, people who are wounded and need time to recover, and people who are busy reorganizing themselves for their next great accomplishment.
People are neither stupid nor lazy, they are merely abused repeatedly and then gas-lighted with the notion that they are defective for their feelings.
If you love your child, listen to them if and when they say they don’t want to go back to school.

Raederle, Age 29
Further Reading:
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