Posted on May 2, 2012 - by

Share Your (Mis)Education Story!

I’ve started a new documentary, PLAY (working title), and want your feed-back!

A couple months after FRESH’s release, I gave birth to Maayan. And two years later, Sasha was born. They have brought unprecedented joy into my life. Maayan and Sasha are perfect, the way, I believe, all children are. They shine, they are self-assured, they are curious, they are happy. So I watch with dread children a little older who have lost some of their spark, some of their confidence. Children who already feel anxious about learning by the time they reach third grade, some already feeling “dumber” than their friends, some having to curb their natural excitement and energy so they can sit for hours on end “learning,” instead of playing and exploring.

As Maayan is getting close to school age, I’ve been researching and learning more and more about our current educational system. It’s become clear to me that our antiquated system of education no longer meets the needs of children or society. We are stuck with an “industrial” system of education that requires all children to learn the same information, at the same time, in the same way, ignoring the incredible diversity of personalities, learning styles, talent and desires that our children exhibit. A system that values some forms of intelligence (logical/academic) over others (emotional, artistic, practical, etc.), leaving so many of us unseen and devalued. My research has lead me to think that our educational system, one that used to be the best in the world, one that built this nation, is now no longer educating our children, but is instead preventing our children from reaching their full potential.

Like our industrial food system, our educational system is broken. In PLAY, I hope to open people’s minds and hearts to the possibility and potential of a radical shift in our thinking about education, the way I did in FRESH for food.

As I develop this new project, I’d like to hear your stories: what is your and/or your child’s experience in school?

Please read below for examples of stories I’m looking for and send me your story by emailing me at

Thank you in advance for your contribution. I look forward to hearing your stories!

Ana Joanes

Here are some questions that might guide you in sharing your story. But please don’t limit yourself, if you feel like my project speaks to you (either because you agree or you don’t), please email me and share your thoughts.

Your (mis-)education story:

  • Were you made to feel stupid? Were you tracked at an early age because you were not “good” in academic subjects? Did you drop out because school didn’t seem to be a good match for you? Were you told that what you want to do is not valuable? Did you learn to fear or dislike math or other subjects (or all things school-related)? I’m looking for stories of people whose talents and strengths were not recognized in school and who, instead, were made to feel bad for not learning how and what is valued in our school system. Would you say that your self-worth is still tied-up with the way your teachers treated you? Are you still looking, or have you given up looking, for a way to express your potential in life? Or have learned since what you are good at and have found your place/ your element.
  • Were you good at school? excelled in all the way you were supposed to? did you end up in the best college and then best graduate school (law school? med school?). Only to end up in a job you don’t really like? are you now stuck — well-paid and with all the status but still unfulfilled? Do you not know what you’d like to do instead, but wish you could find a more meaningful occupation? or perhaps you took a radical turn and are now following your bliss?
  • Did you have a great time at school? how did your school meet your needs? did your teachers see you and help you achieve your potential? in what way? did you develop your love for learning? self-knowledge? communication skills? creative potentials?
  • Do you believe you’ve got no special talent and that you’re not particularly creative? If so, can you trace when you started feeling that way?

Your child’s (mis-)education story:

  • Is your child’s special talent and learning style recognized and nurtured or ignored and dismissed?
  • Is your child excited to go to school or dreading it?
  • Is your child learning about him/her-self, developing his/her confidence, his/her ability to communicate with others?
  • Did you have to take your child out of school? why? what happened since?

Like this message? Forward it and pass it on!



Or, copy and paste the following text into Twitter: Help Ana Joanes with a new documentary: Share your (mis)education story! @FRESHthemovie



We'd love to hear yours!

  1. Theo Giesy said:

    I was very excited by your project. The timing was fortunate for me because I had just written a seven page piece for a commemorative book about John Holt. I am the mother of five ranging from 24 to 47. We were pioneer homeschoolers because of the kids experiences in school. My three oldest hated it for different reasons including boredom, fear of making mistakes, empathy for classmates who were treated badly. One child was so upset that in the first grade, she sat down on the road on the way to school and refused to go on. She walked home and told me she was sent home. That led to discussions about the law and ultimately to homeschooling. All this was supported first by reading John Holt’s books and then by him personally. His support meant so much to me. I had tried working within the school system and got nowhere. When they say they want involved parents, they mean they want parents who back up everything the school says and not parents who criticize. My youngest was homeschooled from start to finish. I would be glad to help in any way you could use. I strongly recommend John Holt’s books both for your project and for you as a mother. They are very readable. “How Children Learn” talks about children the way you describe yours. “Instead of Education” would be good background for your project. I would be glad to send you a copy of what I wrote if it would be a help. John’s books are available as PDF files.

  2. Julie Sanders said:

    I love the idea of your project. Thank you for asking for input!

    My relationship with education has been an interesting one. I always did well in school. I think my mom being a teacher fostered a love of learning in me from early on. However, in junior high, I was bullied because of some older girls that didn’t like my mom as their substitute teacher. When my mom got a permanent teaching position at the high school I was supposed to attend, I wanted out!

    So, scraping together the funds, my parents paid to put my sister and me through a private Christian high school. That was a wonderful experience — although that school had it’s share of troubled kids as well. I made solid friendships that I have to this day, even though I’ve moved out of state. I graduated valedictorian and attended Pepperdine University on scholarship. I really loved all of it. The best part was studying in London my sophomore year — full immersion in another culture and total independence from mom and dad! I learned a ton!

    Fast forward 7 or 8 years, and I’m preparing to send my first son to kindergarten. I had a few friends who home schooled and I thought they were crazy! Well, the summer before Benjamin would go to school, I had something of an “epiphany” — I had the distinct sense that God wanted me to home school my boys. I wanted them to play AND learn — with me. I have learned so much by home schooling, I now realize how lacking my own education was.

    I now have 3 boys that I home school and I can’t imagine asking any of my creative, energetic, bright boys to sit for hours in a classroom with 30 bored and distracted children trying to learn anything. Benjamin is now finishing his sophomore year in high school, excelling in every subject. I love that I’m there for all the discoveries the boys make about the world — in history, Latin, science, algebra, literature.

    I know for my boys and myself, and even my husband who is not so involved in the day to day of school, we’ve discovered the joy of learning and know that it’s a life-long endeavor. What a wonderful world we live in! A love of learning unlocks so many opportunities. It’s so sad that the traditional model for school robs kids of that love.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how your project progresses. Please keep us informed!

  3. Lisa ~ AutismWonderland said:

    I have a 6 year old son with autism. He is currently in the public school system (kindergarten). The Public School system talks about providing an appropriate education but they are failing children every single day. Would love to connect with you!

  4. Gladys said:

    My experience in school was not so great. Our family had 7 children and the time that Mom and Dad had (or took) with each child was minimal. We were sent to school to learn what we had to learn. The town that I grew up in was small and very judgmental. So as a rather shy petite girl with 6 brothers, I was judged by my classmates (and probably my teachers as well) to be about average, never the top learner in the class. That is where the society of this small town put me, so that is where I put myself. When I left that small town (shortly after my graduation from High School), I discovered the real world. I discovered that if someone just meets you, they will give you an opportunity to be yourself without judgment. I learned that you could do whatever you put your mind to.
    My daughter was born and my marriage did not work out. As a single parent I had it all to do. My daughter went to public school. Many times I know that I was lacking in the ability to provide to her over and above the basic needs of life, but she blossomed because she knew that I was doing the best that I could and that I loved her unconditionally. I always told her that if she was doing the best that she could, that was all anyone could ask.
    The combination of living a basic life with very few frills and telling her to always do her best sent her on a course of excellence. She had her Major decided when she was a junior in High School. She wanted to become a Speech Therapist. She obtained her Bachelor Degree and her Master’s Degree and is currently working on her Doctorate Degree.
    Sometimes I feel that parents today do too much. They try to control too much of their child’s life. I know every parent wants the best for their child, but when does it become interference? I was stifled by the judgment of a small town. Are parents stifling their children with their judgment and their control? We want our schools to be well rounded and we want our schools to have programs that let our children express and develop their own talents.
    Situations and life experiences shape each one of us to walk the path we must walk on this earth. It shaped me and it shaped my daughter to believe that we could do whatever we set our minds to no matter what obstacles stand before us.

  5. Marianne Woods said:

    When I was in school we were all taught the same way and if you didn’t keep up, you got no special help. Like with math, if you didn’t know it, oh well.This was elementary school and middle school. It wasn’t until high school that I got tutoring in math and by then, I really didn’t care as my confidence was already shaken and so was my attitude. Who cares? I managed to graduate so I wasn’t all that bad. Or was I? Ten years later, I applied to a community college. I took the addmissions tests and failed the math. Since I knew I wasn’t that bad at it, I went to the library and got some books and studied up on my basic math skills and retook that part of the test. I passed but I needed some elementary algebra in order to take any real general education math courses. So I did. I struggled and I got tutoring twice a week and I passed with a C. From them on I did not take any other math classes but what was considered a math class…like statistics or logics. I am now 18 years later graduating with my Associates Degree. I am beginning a new career in Biology at the age of 46 and transfering to a new college where I will need more math courses. So, math haunts me to this day.
    As for reading, we took reading tests and the English teacher told me my reading was at an 8th grade level for someone in their junior year of high school but offered NO assistance as to how to better myself or why that was. I have since excelled in reading and English but the math still haunts me.
    I am determined to excel in math to a degree because I want my degree and career bad enough to do the work. When I was younger, I didn’t have the confidence or skills to want anything so I listened everyone else as they basically told me I was unintelligent. I feel like when my kids went to school, the math was still a problem. here’s what’s wrong, you figure it out or fail. Great!! Thanks! They tried to teach us parents the “new math”. Laugh out loud! What makes them think that I know math any more now than when they taught me 10 years earlier? I was stunned and confused and when I helped my kids, I used the “old math” and the kids were like, “that’s wrong!” I said, how can it be wrong if we both got the same answer? This is how they want us to do it. Well, if you get the correct answer, I say do it that way. How can they judge you on the work to get the answer if you struggle as it is to even understand the math problem? So I think they made it more confusing for me and a tiny bit easier for them. I just wished there were different classes for those who were slower and maybe more emphasis on assisting us because I know I am not the only one. Also, we now have the metric system….where was I? So I have a lot of work to undo and this is a great idea. Everyone learns at different degrees and it should be respected not expected. Thanks.

  6. dawn said:

    I had dyslexia. Until I was given untimed exams, which happened only when I was doing post college courses did I start to succeed academically. Now I am developmental and behavioral pediatrician who helps others with similar problems.

  7. aranma2 said:

    I haven’t seen Fresh yet, but I, so far, like what you’ve had to say here. We’ll get to my story another time. I have two daughters and am, far and away, the luckiest dad on the planet. I’m in their lives but they live with their mother. One is about to graduate and the other is ending middle school this year. Here’s the thing the older one has the normal jitters about what’s going to happen next, but my younger one, holy cow, She loves school her teachers cry when she moves on and as for the artistic side well the younger one sews her own cloths…not from patterns but designs and just makes them and they are nice. She was written about in her local paper a year ago and she just sews away. I say I’m lucky because they get along so well and no matter what’s gone on in my life they both love me and still light up when they see their dad. I’m crying now, (thank you very much). Their mother remarried shortly after we divorced no it had nothing to do with anything other than me taking the situation we were in for granted. Trust me on that it was my fault. She did however marry money and thus the girls haven’t really wanted for anything but they are not affected by it. Also my youngest doesn’t see color. She sees people for who they are not by nationality or bias or prejudices Their both like that they might have gotten that from me. My oldest strength is she wants to go into mission work. For the last five years she’s gone to Mexico and built houses for two weeks every summer. I couldn’t be prouder of both of them. Well that’s my story. Hope it helps.

  8. Jill said:

    What an interesting project. Good luck with it.

    I loved school and still do. That’s probably why I became a teacher.

    When I was a student, particularly in high school, kids were placed in tracks–college-bound, business, vocational, etc. These tracks were not rigid; everybody could move from one to another if s/he chose to. The result of tracking was that I never got bored. Classes were stimulating and I developed a love of learning.

    As a teacher, I’ve seen mistakes that are rife in the educational system. The first is that students are presented with lessons before they can comprehend them. For example, a class of first graders studies genealogy. Six-year-olds have not developed a sense of time past, so the project is meaningless, and it leaves them feeling that they are too stupid to be in the first grade.
    Another example: A friend took her excited young grandson to the Dinosaur Museum. He was devastated when he saw that the dinosaurs were life-sized models instead of live animals. His brain had not developed enough to understand time, extinction, or death. In fact, most small children believe that dinosaurs are real-life monsters that they’ll run into someday. Nonetheless, primary teachers all over the country are expected to teach units on dinosaurs.

    A brief list of second grade spelling words:
    Vitally important words, are they not?

    First-graders learn algebra. Sixth graders study solid geometry. Yet, high school students count on their fingers.


    The other important factor that nobody talks about is early-onset puberty. Researchers say that when the young brain enters puberty, it’s flooded with hormones that wipe out all but the most deeply embedded knowledge. Pubescent eight-year-olds haven’t had enough time to embed much of anything. They’re lucky if they can read and do basic math. If so, they have a chance of succeeding, while other less-prepared students will be lost from that point on.

    I have taught innumerable high school students who struggle to read at the elementary level. Unfortunately, teachers are not permitted to correct these deficits. They have curricula they are required to cover whether or not anybody in their classes can learn it.

    Standardized, high stakes testing exacerbates the problem.

    Children are learning machines–that’s their job. All kids learn, but the question is what.

  9. Visit My Website

    July 16, 2012


    Teri Helms said:

    A friend that you e-mailed directed me to your site. Are you still currently seeking input?