I was a bright kid.
In the first grade, I read on a 4th to early 5th grade level. Instead of being challenged to read more and learn more, my teacher decided that I was a problem and separated me from other children.
In the second grade, I had a teacher who was more understanding of my reading prowess. However, when I refused to count to 100 – I got bored with the task at around 50 – she decided that I was bad at math and needed to be put into remedial math which only bored me more than counting to 100 did.
My third grade teacher also saw me as a problem. I was 4 grades ahead of the other kids in the class in reading. She decided to send me to another class for half of each day for "enrichment" while maintaining that I had to complete all the work from her class too. I was 8. I got home from school, took a 30 minute break to tell my mother about my stressed out day and then got to work on 2-1/2 hours of homework. After 2 months, I was mentally exhausted and told my mother that I "just wanted to be stupid like everyone else".
In fourth grade, I started getting bullied. I had a great teacher that year but she seemed to have a blind eye for the boys in the class. We were assigned seats in lunch and I was put next to a guy who delighted in telling me how he was going to rape and torture me every day. I was in a reading class with two other students which was great because I got the challenge that I needed but it also meant that other students in the class called me teachers pet and teased me constantly.
Fifth grade was a comedy of horrors. During this year, I was held down by two boys who each felt me up. I also had two girls hold me down while a third girl hit me repeatedly. None of these kids got in trouble for their actions. Instead, I was told to be more careful.
My parents did not believe in designer clothing for young girls and this was when designer jeans were really first in fashion. I so wanted that stupid swan on my butt. So during fifth grade, all my differences were pointed out repeatedly by girls who made fun of my hair and lack of designer jeans.
So as you can see, much of what I learned in elementary school was not about the wonder of this planet or about humans at their best, but about teachers who had no idea how to deal with me, or who wanted to dumb me down to the level of the other students. I learned that being stupid was preferable to intelligence. I learned that I wasn’t allowed to say no even when I was being violated.