Building an Authentic Community of Practice



I have dyslexia and dyscalculia but I was not diagnosed until junior year of highschool so my journey with school has always been a difficult one. My parents had very high standards regarding my grades but I really never met them, so that was constantly very disappointing for them and me. Doing homework was troublesome and nine out of ten times ended up with me crying, especially when I was younger. My mom was usually the one helping me with my homework and this put a strain on our relationship. I never knew what was going on and she did not speak English well enough to explain my homework to me. I also moved every two/three years since I was five so I never really had a stable and consistent support system at the schools I attended. 

When I got to highschool my learning disabilities made school so unnecessarily challenging. For a while I really put my best foot forward but, I noticed it would take me double the effort of my classmates and I did not have the energy for it. I could not for the life of me get a single good grade so I didn’t really put any effort into a majority of my classes. Every year I would choose one or two classes to do well in even if I didn’t get a good grade because I genuinely enjoyed learning about the subject. 

Generally speaking, I never really had any close relationships with my teachers. The only teachers I had a relationship was with those that noticed I was struggling and made an effort to sit down with me one on one. Most teachers just sent scary emails to my parents which would force me to talk to them (teachers). 

I also always felt inferior to my classmates especially at Palo Alto High. In Palo Alto the high school curriculum is rigorous to say the least and there are very high standards for the students. This pressure caused many suicides amongst students at my school as well as another school in our city called Gunn High School. Going to this school had a huge toll on my mental health, I felt so stupid and basically incompetent. My classmates were mostly legacy to ivy league schools and they were all extremely wealthy. I was very envious of their lives and the advantages they had growing up.

I think schools without grades would be good in theory. The kids who want to learn would learn regardless. I think schools need structure and goals but I’m not sure grades are the best measuring system. It’s a very black and white system especially because most classes put a lot of weight on exams. I think a system which measures students’ capabilities and effort would be a better solution.

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