5th Grade Memories...

Once upon a time (a longer time ago than I care to admit), I was in Ms. Dipietro's 5th grade class.  (It's been so long that I'm not even sure that's how you spell her name.)   Back then, 5th grade was part of the elementary school; today it is part of the middle school.  My son is currently in 5th grade and I expect his memories of 5th grade will be very different from mine.

Despite the fact that it was decades ago, I still have some pretty clear memories of 5th grade.  Although I may not be clear on the spelling of her name, I remember Ms. Dipietro very clearly; her warm smile, her longish brunette hair and the hoop earrings that she wore.  (As I had just gotten my ears pierced that summer earrings made a BIG impact on me.)  Her classroom was toward the back of the school (northwest side).  I think we both dressed up as gypsies that Halloween.  (Lots of scarves and big hoop earrings; it was really "cool" back then.)  She taught us some Spanish (foreign language was not part of the elementary curriculum back then) and which made me feel like our class was "special" learning something "exotic" and different. Towards the end of the school year, I remember finishing up the 5th grade reading/literacy textbook and moving on to the one that was marked for 6th grade.  That really made me feel "advanced."

Most of my memories, as noted above, are not about academics (I don't recall any homework), but about the class.  I can still name some of my classmates that year.  I can still remember the layout of the classroom.  But most clearly I can still remember Ms. DiPietro and how her classroom was a place I wanted to be.  I may not remember the day to day, but overall my feelings and memories of my last year in elementary school.

What memories will my son have?

I'm afraid when he looks back on this academic year all he will recall will be tests (specifically math, since it is the subject that he struggles the most with and hence dislikes the most) and homework assignments.  I'm afraid that all he will remember will be that it was a year of stress and not of the new friends that he made and field trips that he took. Will he remember his teachers as ones who nurtured him or ones who just gave him test after test?  I want him to remember Art Club, 5th grade socials and the two outdoor field trips.  I want him to forget the frustration and the fears.

Certainly I want my child to get a "good" education, but even more so, I want him to learn how to interact with different people.  I want him to be educated so that he survive and thrive in the "real" world when he is an adult.  When all is said and done, I want him to graduate high school feeling good about his future based on what he has done in his 12+ years of school.  I'm not negating education, but want and need the experience to be one that he can look back on with fondness.  In my mind, the experience is just as important as the "learning."  For it is the experiences that form the memories, not the tests, quizzes and assessments.

When we look back on our youth and schooling, what do we remember?  What do we want our children to remember? Education is not just about tests; it's about growing up and being prepared to face the "real" world.  Shouldn't that be what all children should have?  And wouldn't that forge positive memories that will last a lifetime?


  1. You made me cry. My daughter is also in Fifth grade and with your son. I hope she gets to enjoy the friends and memories. It makes me so sad how things have changed.


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