Tuesday, March 22, 2011

IQ tests and me....

When I was in 3rd grade, my teacher and the counsellors at the school decided that I needed to undergo a week long program of IQ tests (at least it seemed like a week). I was forever being pulled out of class and made to put puzzles together to a time clock or fit weird shapes into strange holes - I had to line up pictures and write stories and do all sorts of things.....(Sometimes I thought I was being made to go through all of this so that my teacher could have a rest - I had a lot of questions in those days....)

Well, the decision was made to take me out of my third grade class and bang me straight into the 4th grade.  This was about 3 months into the school year - so it was a very strange experience.  I enjoyed - sort of- the attention, and these kids were at least learning something more interesting than what I had been forced to sit through in 3rd grade, but the kids in the class didn't like it that a 3rd grader was invading their territory.  And at lunch-times my 3rd grade friends didn't like it that I had been taken out of their class and put up with the 4th graders.  After a  while, I didn't like any of it!

While I enjoyed learning new things, I didn't enjoy the feeling of being friendless --it was a very difficult time for me.  Some of my 3rd grade friends hurt my feelings so much, you know, the ones I had played with every day, and walked home with, and cared about.  Suddenly I was being pushed into a corner all by myself.  I couldn't talk to my 3rd grade teacher, because I thought she was probably happy with the whole set-up, I couldn't talk to my 4th grade teacher, because I think she was still trying to figure out what to do with me, my principal always needed appointments, and the counsellor that had tested me was always busy.  I was sort of in this problem on my own.  Even my parents didn't seem to enter into it - it was like I was living in this strange world where I was just supposed to accept all of these problems and in a way, be punished for having curiosity.  I started to withdraw.  I stopped eating at lunchtime because it was very sad to just sit by myself.

My sister was interested in early childhood education and started to notice the change in my behaviour.  I remember a facial tick/gesture that I developed.  I would stretch my face long wise with my facial muscles as though I was trying to pull it away, and would open my mouth and stretch my face out longer. It is hard to describe, but I remember the feeling to this day.  When I was worried, or felt very alone, I would do this awful facial exercise a lot!  No one seemed to care if I did it, and I couldn't stop it after a while.  I just remember being very unhappy, and just wanted to be with my friends, and happy again.  I stopped talking.  I stopped everything in class.  I listened, and did the work, and tried to learn --but I just didn't care anymore.  I just wanted to be left alone forever.  I didn't want to go to school anymore, and I sure didn't want to be in that classroom!

Finally, (apparently) my sister talked with my parents and made my Mum go up to the school to talk to them about my behaviour.  I don't think Mum wanted to - I think she was just hoping I would adjust and she wouldn't have to deal with anything.  But she and my sister confronted the principal.  The next thing I knew I was snatched out of the 4th grade, and plunked back into my 3rd grade class, and just left alone again.  I thought I had really done something bad, and would often cry at night, because no-one seemed to talk to me about it, and I figured I must have been a very bad person to be moved around like this. 

But somehow I made it through this process, my friendships were never the same, and I felt lost for a very long time - but I survived.  From then on I decided that school and curiosity was dangerous - but probably was very lucky to survive it as me.  As the years went by I tried to hold onto my natural curiosity, but I was suspicious of some people and really tested my teachers to see if they deserved to teach me.  In the end I became accepting of people and the fact that they could make mistakes which affected me personally.  I never liked it that they did, but learned to accept that as a part of life. 

What this process instilled in me though was the determination to become a teacher who would teach.  I wanted to work with my students and enjoy them and teach them that any kind of  learning was fun and easy to do, and very worthwhile.  I was an instigator in remedial reading programs in high school, and introduced fun and curiosity and 'human-ness' into my classroom.  I liked teaching my students how to learn, not what to learn....we grew together and discovered all sorts of wonderful things.  I am still discovering them!

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