What I Learned in School--Year by Year

I liked school--really!

I liked school in my own way. I really did. I made good grades but was not a great student. My I.Q. was one of the highest in my class (a friend killed the curve with an I.Q. of 156) and I should have been one of the teacher’s favorites, but I lacked interest and concentration. You see, I was inspired by Disney cartoon characters and Marvel super heroes, and I wanted to draw pictures. Elementary school interfered with my dream of drawing muscle men or cute little animals for a living. Like an athlete with a limited number of years in his legs, I felt I had to get busy before arthritis set in.

It certainly wasn’t the teachers’ fault I didn’t do better. I was a proud member of Saint John’s Catholic Grade School, and those nuns really knew their stuff. Their best efforts, however, weren’t sufficient to guide me toward the academic straight-and-narrow. My drawings continued to compete with scholastic achievement for my attention.

School wasn’t a complete waste, however. I did learn some things. In fact, to demonstrate that I didn’t fritter away my time, I wrote down what I learned in school. To make things simpler I broke it down, year by year, followed by a summary. Make your own list and compare your academic success with mine, okay? Here goes…

 

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School memories

My first grade class at Saint John's School
My first grade class at Saint John's School
I didn't want to be doing this...
I didn't want to be doing this...
...I wanted to draw the Hulk
...I wanted to draw the Hulk

Things I learned; Kindergarten through Grade Six

Kindergarten: 1.) No one could force me to drink milk if I didn’t want to. 2.) I learned from a tiny masher named Lillian that if little girls are intent on kissing boys, there’s nothing you can do. The combination of these two lessons taught me to never give in and to always give in.

First Grade: 1.) I learned to read and write. 2.) If you need to use the rest room, don’t raise your hand and wait to be acknowledged—go ahead and go. Teachers would rather ignore your transgression than face the alternative. It would seem first grade taught me the things in life I most needed to know.

Second Grade: I remember absolutely nothing about second grade. I’m pretty sure I went, but I seemingly learned nothing memorable.

Third Grade: 1.) It does nothing for your academic standing to climb onto shelves, wait for your teacher to walk by, and leap from the shelves to knock her to the ground. Trust me on this one—nuns DO NOT see the humor in this. 2.) You can’t fake being an altar boy in church—you need to know what to do. When a priest conducting mass expects you to do something, you better get it done. You want priests and nuns on your side, which makes sense when you think about it.

Fourth Grade: 1.) It isn’t a good idea to hide homework assignments in your desk and never complete them. The first day you’re home sick, everything in the desk comes home with your older brother. 2.) Completing all the assignments in the math book over the weekend and calling yourself finished for the year doesn’t work—the teachers have no intention of letting you just sit there. The message of these dual lessons was to do your homework, but not too quickly.

Fifth Grade: 1.) If you’re given a week to solve one hundred math problems at home, you shouldn’t try to complete them at recess the day the assignment is due. You’ll only get a few of them done—especially if the swings are available. 2.) If you’re upset about something, going home without telling anyone is only going to make things worse. The folks that invited you to attend school are convinced you should stay for the entire day, and they won’t believe you left to do math problems.

Sixth Grade: 1.) If you have a big friend for a protector, a lot of other problems go away. This was one of the most important lessons I learned. 2.) You can’t write off the school year shortly after New Year’s Day and devote your time to drawing cartoons, even if you are going to junior high next year. Bullies are intimidated by scary guys protecting smaller kids, especially when the protector is a little crazy.

With the completion of sixth grade I reached the end of my time in a Catholic grade school and the halfway point in my educational journey. You might assume things got easier for me, freed from the confines of the parochial school system. For example, I could wear jeans and tee-shirts to school.

It didn’t help.

 

School memories: the later years

I don't want to argue--I just want to draw super-heroes
I don't want to argue--I just want to draw super-heroes
Graduation day!  Don't I look thrilled?
Graduation day! Don't I look thrilled?
At least my grades were good enough to get a discount on my auto insurance
At least my grades were good enough to get a discount on my auto insurance

Things I learned: Grade Seven through Grade Twelve

Seventh Grade: 1.) Seventh grade girls are a distraction in ways that sixth grade girls weren’t. 2.) You have to do a lot of push-ups in the corner if you forget your gym locker combination. If you’re going to spend your time staring at girls, write your locker combination on your hand.

Eighth Grade: 1.) Gorgeous 26 year-old teachers are not attracted to skinny, long-haired 14 year-old students, no matter how cool or charming we think we are. 2.) Shop teachers are not to be messed with—they have no sense of humor about anything. Accept teachers for what they are and do not develop crushes or view them as an audience for a comedy routine.

Ninth Grade: 1.) Ninth grade girls are infinitely more interesting than seventh and eighth grade girls. 2.) Yelling “Hey, Mom” from a third story window (Spanish class, I believe) to little old ladies walking down the street outside is frowned upon—especially if you do it every day. Yelling out the window was my inner geek manifesting itself and ninth grade girls were not impressed—no matter how fascinating I found them to be.

Tenth Grade: 1.) Chuckling at the art instructor’s efforts to draw hands is not something they find amusing. 2.) You have to do a lot of push-ups in the corner if you whistle at the girl’s gym teacher—even more than when you forgot your gym locker combination, three years earlier. Message to Mike: leave the teachers alone, once and for all.

Eleventh Grade: 1.) It doesn’t matter if you’re the best artist on the planet, you won’t get a good grade in an art class if you don’t finish a project. 2.) Teachers hate teen angst and won’t accept it as an excuse for boorish behavior or bad study habits. Art instructors won’t accept teen angst as a reason not to finish projects and they won’t give you a good grade based on potential.

Twelfth Grade: 1.) High school girls are always looking for someone smarter, stronger, or older. Subsequently, it’s okay to notice girls in the eleventh grade since seniors are usually unavailable. 2.) With three weeks left I realized I liked school and would miss it after I left. It took twelve years to get used to school, and when I did they made me leave.

With the completion of grades seven through twelve, it would appear I wasn’t only interested in drawing—I also liked girls. In this regard I was hardly unique, but this added preoccupation did little for my academic record. At least my grades were good enough to warrant a discount on my auto insurance.

One last indignity

It sounds as if I didn’t learn much in school, but they didn’t learn much about me, either. My high school graduation ceremony aptly demonstrated that I left as anonymously as I arrived. The principal pronounced my name “lick-teeg” instead of the correct “lick-tie.” At least he didn’t call me “necktie,” “lickstick,” “mickle lick-tickle,” "Michael H. Henry" (don't ask...),  “Michelle” Lickteig or any other brilliant variation of my name endured throughout the years. Thank goodness for that.

When I returned home I unfurled my diploma and read it carefully. The parchment proclaimed I had graduated in good standing with all due rights, privileges and responsibilities, which seemed fair enough. By chance I eventually compared it to my older brother’s high school diploma and saw they were identical—with one exception: his conveyed all due rights, privileges and honors. With my diploma they replaced the word “honors” with “responsibilities”. Why was that, and why did I somehow feel cheated?

A final note: My whimsical look at school was not intended to denigrate the many fine instructors and institutions charged with advancing my education. It should be noted I attended college and earned a degree from the University of Kansas, replete with even more rights, privileges and honors (oops, I meant responsibilities).

School's Out performed by Alice Cooper

Take the School Poll

How did you do in school?

  • It was a miserable waste of time
  • I was an underachiever, but school wasn't a total loss
  • I did pretty well
  • I did well but could have accomplished more
  • I maximized my potential each and every day
See results without voting

Comments 29 comments

Arthur Windermere profile image

Arthur Windermere 6 years ago

Very amusing, Mike. A refreshing breeze of nostalgia, to which I'm very susceptible.

I must admit you've been Lick-teeg in my head all this time. I'm sorry to see Lick-teeg go, but I'm a stickler for correct pronunciation.

I found elementary and secondary school to be a waste of time. They skipped me and a few other students a grade in grade 4. But only in certain subjects. So technically we were still in grade 4, just doing grade 5 work. This means when we got to grade 6, we had exhausted certain subjects and were just sent to write silly stories and goof off in the computer room. That, to me, as a allegory for the whole institution. Too little to do in way too much time. Great for anyone who has a B.A. in education and no job; not so great for children's minds.

I did really enjoy the social life, though. And my teachers. They all had such interesting personalities. Sadly, not a hot 26-year-old in the lot.

Cheers!


coffeesnob 6 years ago

Mike, I can relate. I attended Catholic school until 10th grade, but really public school was in some ways no differnt(as I think you alluded to here). I hated school and all of its drama and dropped out the end of my sophmore yr. So, kudos to you for sticking it out. I finally went back to school at age 24 and finshed. Seems I could better handle the drama then. Finally, at age 51, I earned my masters. slowly but surely got there. Loved this piece. It rang true for many I am sure. I had to chuckle at what you learned in fourh grade (a great life lesson).


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Hey, Arthur, thanks for reading. They didn't have anyone skip grades in my school, but a friend and I tried to move ahead on our own. We finished the math book over the weekend. The next weekend we finished the science book. The third weekend the teacher caught on and told us to quit it.

The following year we did the same thing, with similar results.

No hot 26 year-old teachers? It is a mixed blessing. She had my attention the entire year, and I didn't remember a word she said... Thanks again for stopping by.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

CS, thanks for reading. If you went to a Catholic grade school, perhaps you had a First Communion photo like the one I posted here. I was the only kid wearing a suit jacket, so I was wearing black in a sea of white shirts.

You dropped out? My high I.Q. buddy did, also. School just isn't meant for some folks. I struggled just as much with college, but that is another story for another time. Getting a masters at 51 is nice. You are to be congratulated. Thanks again for reading--I hope you enjoyed my look back.

Mike


blue parrot profile image

blue parrot 6 years ago from Madrid, Spain

I think that I learned a lot, but take it for granted, as for instance maths, spelling, and, in Switzerland where I am from (but we are 3 parrots and only one is from there), also German, because the Swiss speak only a dialect which is related to German but is not very similar at all. So without school I would not have learned the official language, while the dialect can't be written, does not exist in written form.

And strangely enough, grade school was also the only place where I heard about the Bible, but could not imagine what it was. I pictured something enormous, extraterrestrial.

Later, in high school etc I learned a great quantity of things of mostly very low quality, except maths that I adored.


John B Badd profile image

John B Badd 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

Great hub Mike. I also did the Catholic thing but from kindergarten till 8th; the nuns were never on my side. Everything learned academically was in those years, in high school I learned how to party and chase girls lol.

Cool car by the way. Is that a Satellite?


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

Too bad, Mike. You have now reached the zenith of your hub-writing career. I cannot imagine any future hubs that will be funnier, more poignant, funnier, more compelling, funnier, or more brilliant than this one. Bravo, Sir LickTie.

BTW, I clocked the chuckles and they were occurring every 2.5 seconds.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Blue Parrot, it sounds as if your primary school education was quite fascinating. It is interesting that you would have learned about the Bible without actually being shown one. I'm certain that it would have taken on mythical proportions in one's imagination.

Clearly I take my own education somewhat for granted, as well. I did a bit better than I let on here, although I am not exaggerating my lack of focus. It was filled with some rough moments (especially in grades 7-9), and I have great respect for any child who sees school for what it can be, rather than what it too often was for me.

Thanks for reading, I appreciate your comments--both here and on the hub about art.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

John, thanks for stopping by. In my grade school, they eliminated 7th and 8th grade as an option the very year I went into 6th grade. My brother and sister were in the Catholic school through eighth grade, but I was sent to junior high. I think the culture shock was pretty severe for my brother, so in hindsight I was glad to have gotten to junior high the same time as everyone else--it was hard enough that way.

I will say that it took almost a year for the junior high to catch up to what we had learned in Catholic grade school. The quality of education was outstanding, even if I wasn't very focused.

Thanks for noticing the car. It was actually a 1970 Mercury Cougar, and I still think it was the coolest car I've ever owned. Sometimes when I'm dreaming, I will still be in that car. It was a great ride.

Thanks again for your comments.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

drbj, thanks for reading and I'm glad you got a chuckle or two from it. I have to admit, if I did a similar hub about college life, it would take on a grim tone, so I did well in stopping here. This was fun to write, and it made me think that on some level, the teachers had to at least partially be amused. Perhaps they were horrified as well, but maybe there is an old lady somewhere chuckling about some crazy kid who kept trying to knock her down.... Or, maybe not.

So, what was grade school like for you? Any good stories????

Thanks again for the kind words.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

CS, thanks for sharing the communion picture on your web site--the picture was terrific! I love looking at photographs, and I appreciate your willingness to post it. How old was your father in this photograph? I was just curious. I was the youngest child in my family, but many of my peers were the oldest and had younger parents.

Thanks again for sharing the photo, I really appreciate it.

Mike


noorin profile image

noorin 6 years ago from Canada

Very amusing, I like how you compared your diploma with your brother's =P And all those lessons u learned about girls, ur ahead of the game ;-) My lessons were kinda different but feel free to check them out and tell me wot u think http://hubpages.com/education/Memoirs-of-a-Technic...


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Noorin, thanks for reading. I regret that girls captured such an inordinate amount of my attention back then, but they were quite fascinating to me, even if I started out far too shy to say much to them. I wished I had not been quite the underachiever, but I would not trade away my experiences, good or bad.

Thanks again for reading, and I will look at your memoirs.

Mike


coffeesnob 6 years ago

Mike,

My dad would have been 37 in that picture. I was the youngest child in my fam.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

CS, that was a very nice picture. I appreciate your sharing it. Like I said, I love pictures. Thanks again.

Mike


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

You said "I will say that it took almost a year for the junior high to catch up to what we had learned in Catholic grade school. " Same thing happened to me from 7th (Catholic school) to 8th grade (public school). That year was just about a total repeat...and to think that the last year in Catholic school...we had 3 classes in one room! I really loved attending that school and liked the nuns.

I really enjoyed this nostalgic look back at your schooling.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Peggy, thanks for reading. I am convinced that the Parochial schools were unmatched in providing a solid elementary school education, and I gained a lot from being there. Obviously I caused some headaches for some teachers, but they were very good at what they did.

Thanks for again for reading, I appreciate your comments and am glad you enjoyed my look back.

Mike


Seakay profile image

Seakay 6 years ago from Florida

Great commentary on education! As a teacher, it's important for me to maintain a sense of humor. The best grade for me in school was 4th grade. To this day I keep in touch with my 4th grade teacher. Since I am into my Golden Years, I think that is quite a testament to her as a teacher!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Seakay, thanks for reading. I appreciate your recognizing that I was poking fun at myself--my teachers were all exceptional. It is outstanding that you maintained contact with your fourth grade teacher. For many years, I kept in touch with my high school debate coach. I am sure that your students are also appreciative of the work you do on their behalf. If they aren't, well--I'm sure they will be someday soon.

Thanks again for reading.

Mike


saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 6 years ago

Wonderful tribute to us wandering through our school years. I like you did not have much use for it, I just know I had to attend, get good grades and graduate or else the Force would be upon me. The force of my mother's hand on my backside. Don't remember KG grade 1 or 2..however 3 I had puppy love eyes for Wendy, she eventually married my best friend, didn't do much for my morale.hah. Grades 4 and 5 were a blurr. 6 and 7 my fisty cuff years, got into a lot of trouble, if I can recall. Grade 8 kicked out of school, entered evening High School to be with adults trying to finish up their H.S. I felt so cool, only 17 amongst 30 and 40 and 50 yr olds. I graduated and went out into the world and a couple of years of college. Like I said school was not my forte, however I still successfully made it in the world and had lots of life experiences. Damm this is turning into a rant, my apologies Mike.. great Hub I'm glad you shared your school years. peace


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Saddlerider, thanks for reading. No apologies necessary for extended comments, I enjoy reading what others have to say. It sounds as though school was quite the odyssey for you, particularly if you were kicked out in the eighth grade and forced to resort to night school. It would appear you came out on the other side just fine, and perhaps everything happens for a reason. Thanks again for reading.

Mike


abidareacode profile image

abidareacode 6 years ago from Areacode , Kerala, India

You remember all these incidents of your lower classes???


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

abidareacode, thanks for reading. Yeah, I have a great memory for my own personal history. When I got older, I kept journals and made notes, but overall I can remember my grade school years very well.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mike


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Responsibility comes with great learning, because you know more, understand more and will help others more, make us more humble, Thumbs up, Maita


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Hi, Maita! Thanks for stopping by. If only I could have more easily accepted the responsibility of learning when I was younger. I guess in the end I did okay.

Thanks again for your comments.

Mike


Joy56 profile image

Joy56 6 years ago

brilliant hub, i can relate, most can...... If we all went back to school knowing what we know, maybe we would all do it differently. Girls, they are such a distraction..... ha ha .... Nice hub, obviously you have learned so much, with our without school.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Joy, thanks for reading. I'm pretty certain I would do some things differently if I could go back in time and try again. I suspect, however, that the girls would still be a distraction in a do-over scenario. Thanks again for reading.

Mike


PETER LUMETTA profile image

PETER LUMETTA 5 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

Mike your stories were very similar to my own and you've inspired me to write a HUB about it. The difference is I had 13 years of Catholic School and nuns, boy the stories I got. Thanks for a fun reade and I will try to catch up on yor hubs. Thanks, Peter


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Peter, thanks for reading. I am sure 13 years in a Catholic school offers a wealth of memories and stories. I look forward to reading your hub. Thanks again.

Mike

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