Hey there and welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast. My name is Sam.
And today we’re gonna ask what’s the craic about…
School! Yeah! Are you excited?
Absolutely. I’m always excited, always excited. So, what are we gonna talk about Ken? What kind of questions are we gonna ask? Tell the good people.
Well, we’re gonna talk about our personal experience at some of our school and maybe some advice that we can share at the end of the episode.
Yeah, absolutely. Some strange teachers maybe.
Our favorite subjects. All kinda stuff like that.
And with that said, let me begin with my first question.
Here we go. I’m hyped, I’m hyped.
How do schools work in your country? I mean, like, when do you start? Do you have primary and secondary schools?
It’s quite… It’s a little bit different than in Russia, maybe other countries. We start September after our 4th birthday. But, like the first year-two-three are really kinda… how do I say that? A lot like детский сад, a lot like nursery or kindergarten.
But we start when we’re four and a half, not five. And we go for a full 12 years. 7 year in primary school, начальная school, something like that. And then secondary school for 5 years. In my town it’s split up – the secondary school, you have… let me see…
It was 3 years in one building, one school, and then 2 years in another school. Essentially it’s the same thing. Senior high school, junior high school, junior high school, senior high school, but it’s the same. High school. What about in the Philippines?
No! Philippines! We have K-12 system, which is basically Kindergarten, and then the first to the 12th grade.
No. And well before it used to be like – we start school in June, but now I guess we’re following the Western system, so now some time in September.
Before it used to be like we only had 2 months off for our holiday or break from school. But now it’s getting more and more like the Western, you know, school system.
Some schools are beginning to have, for example, 3 months of break. So, yeah.
Great for me. I think I had 2 months, yeah, two months in Northern Ireland. But in England I think we only get 6 weeks, a month and a half. If I remember correctly. Never studied there of course, but yeah. It’s more in Northern Ireland, so we’re lucky compared to English units.
Well I guess it’s good for you then.
Not good for my mom, she was like ‘when are you going back to school Sam?’ And I was like ‘I’m bored mom! There’s nothing on TV!’
I have to say so, you know, like in my case when I was at school, summer holidays – they were kinda boring, because, you know, I like the generation today where, you know, there are a lot of activities to do.
And back in the day the Internet wasn’t that popular yet, and I don’t think everyone has the access, so… Including, you know, myself, so yeah, it was kinda boring and I was always looking forward to going back to school.
I lived and grew up without the Internet kids. Can you imagine? Kids today wouldn’t understand.
I can imagine that, knowing how old you are, yes.
Thank you, thank you. You always make me feel better.
Shall I ask you the next question?
Did I catch – how many years then do you study?
So that’s including kindergarten – that’s like 13.
13… So that’s a bit longer. I mean, we can… When you finish school, 16, you can go straight on to two more years in school, A-levels they’re called. And then you can go to university.
Some people decide to, some people don’t. It’s entirely up to them. What was your school experience like? Did you like it at all? What were you like as a student? And did you get picked?
Interesting. I have to say though that when I was in primary school, I wasn’t really exactly a very good student. I was kinda lazy, I didn’t do my homework. And back in the 90s in the Philippines corporal punishments were allowed.
So basically if you didn’t do your homework, the teacher can, you know, strike you with a… how to call it? Rotund cane? Or a stick, across your buttocks.
I got a bit of that. Or on your hands.
But, well, unfortunately for me, I was able to experience that and… oh! Some teachers they would pinch students!
Yeah, and it was awful! Regardless of which part of your body, so if you’re unlucky, then you can be punished. So I have to say though that after that, when I went to high school or secondary school, I think I did better because this time I was ore serious.
I was under the guidance of my grandmother. And! Things just changed 160 degrees - I mean, I was totally… I did all my homework, I was very responsible, and okay, forgive me for saying this, I’d say I was a favorite student. I mean, you know, I was kind of a teacher’s pet.
We don’t think that, but I’d think now, as a teacher, but when we were in school – maybe.
Other students, they, well, they didn’t necessarily liked me, because I…
Haters gonna hate. I was given more favor, cause I was very active. I didn’t care about my classmates – like, if we were asked a question, I would raise a hand ‘me! Me! Me! Me!’ I was kinda liked that. And when I finished school, well, modesty aside, I was… I was a salutatorian, second, you know, top student of my batch.
Only second, so not bad! I did very well.
It’s okay, I guess, second top.
What about you? What was school like?
I started off… So I went to the ordinary primary school, then moved to a Christian school for a while. And at that Christian school they also believed in caning, smacking and stuff. So as a little boy it was ruler on hand, wack-wack! It wasn’t that I didn’t do my homework or something.
You got that experience too.
Yeah, but it wasn’t in ordinary public schools, that didn’t happen there at that time. So I had a little bit of that, then I went to… I did primary 2 and 3 there, and then I think 4, 5 and a little bit of 6. And I got the cane when I was a little bit older, when I did bad things.
I have a tendency of getting into trouble. Even though I hadn’t any real desire to do bad things necessarily. And I just get so boisterous that I get into trouble. I remember breaking some glass stuff in a store room one day, and I just wanted to explore. So I went in and I broke it and I got the cane. I deserved it, but I mean…
It wasn’t really intentional.
It wasn’t like ‘let’s break stuff!’ And then I moved back to a public school. I think it was tricky because of the move. My mom rightly felt that it was better teachers there, just at that time, and so it was good decision I think,
but actually because there was a difference between what they’d been learning, not what they’d been learning, but the time that they’d been learning. So I missed some stuff. I was behind a bit, because there was a different time schedule, different syllabus, different way to teach, different times.
So I missed out a little bit I think. Maybe a little bit picked on, cause I was something new, different, new kid. If you’re different, they would pick on you.
And then high school was good. I mean, I was overall medium level student, you know. Not working very very hard, not lazy either.
I just wanna get back to, you know, what you said – you were picked on. How did you respond to those other kids?
So when I felt it, it was pretty bad. I had a fight. I wasn’t really trained, I should’ve trained.
So did you have a fist fight?
Fist fight, and then when I was pulled up by, you know, authorities, I was like yeah, there’s a lot of picking on. I feel like I’m the one and then everybody’s against me.
I think it wasn’t really intentional, I just was kind of a … ball to have a little joke, but they didn’t mean like anything harsh. But I mean, when you’re 11, no, I was like 10, you don’t really appreciate being jacked up.
But after that I can say that my class was great. They understood that yeah maybe it was a bit too much. I had good times after that. And I think I studied better after that, for some reasons.
No, this is high school. Maybe a little bit in primary school, but this was more high school. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th year of high school. So I guess it was 2nd, 3rd, and after that it was better.
Sorry, I forgot to mention earlier – I was also picked on, primarily because of my eyes, they would often laugh at me and tell ‘you look like an owl because of your huge eyes’.
I was thinking that, but I didn’t say anything.
And I would fight back! I mean, I remember there was this bully in our school, who was, of course, bigger than I was. I wanna say the word – let’s just say he was big.
Anyone who wants to know the word….
They understand that. Well, big.
What does ‘big’ mean? Should we ask a question about that. What are synonyms for big? We love to talk about synonyms, right?
Yeah. But, never mind. I don’t wanna say that one word. So, he picked on me, telling me you’re an owl, and you know, he kept making up names about my surname Amante, which, I think I mentioned a couple of episodes ago.
Eventually at first I was kinda intimidated, because he was a big kid, and I just cried at first, and eventually I thought ‘enough is enough! I need to have my revenge! And guess what? He was shocked when I, you know, punched him in the face.
Oh god! What would you recommend if a student, a pupil is getting bullied? What would you recommend? What would you do? Should they fight?
You know what? I think it’s better to discuss it with authorities. Because, you know, if you fight back, it’s gonna make you…
You’re just gonna get in trouble.
Yeah! It’s gonna aggravate the situation, you know. I don’t think violence is the key.
Okay, I was standing in line. This was back in primary school. I think I was a better fighter when I was in primary school. When I was in Christian school, there were a couple of guys who picked on me, and even once two guys tied me up with a rope.
They were a little bit older than me. And I was told to fight back.
There was once when they were poking me, while we were waiting in line. I think you can imagine that – the guy was behind me, I just lifted my leg, right? You know…. Wack! In a soft place.
It was kind of secretive…. Devious, I guess. He didn’t really enjoy it. I think the guy deserved it.
I don’t know. I don’t want to say that it’s great, that It’s good to do, that kind of response, kinda violent one, but I think he deserved it and it taught him a lesson. He didn’t poke me too often afterwards. But yeah…
That’s a good lesson for him.
What have you got for me Ken?
I’ve got another one here. Let’s talk about subjects! What were your favorite subjects in school?
I can tell you that easily, and they’re still my favorite.
Of course. I loved English, I loved reading books in school, I loved studying about English. Not necessarily the grammar stuff. I mean, the grammar’s okay, but learning about… We did a little bit of Shakespeare and stuff.
But the teacher was quite modern about it, and we watched the films. That was very interesting. He explained it all and it was great. I loved science.
Science. I love science too.
All three. I actually chose to do what was called double-work science. Which meant that I had double the amount of work to do purely on science, I got like two what we call GCSEs on science. Double the work science.
And it was chemistry, biology, and physics that we had. I can’t say that I preferred one, but I liked them all. I just like learning about science. Daily life and how things work, and the universe and stuff. It’s very interesting. And the third one was art, and I still love it.
I mean, now I’m doing….. I worked with the science type stuff, my degree’s on engineering. I haven’t done art yet but wanna do some.
What do you do in your free time?
I do some modelling in BigAppleSchool.
I mean building tanks and things like that.
You use your artistic skill.
But not exactly as a professional, you know. And what about you? Favorite subjects?
As for me, of course, English, obviously. What else… History – to be exact, world history. And general science, and then you have biology, only biology.
Well, I’m gonna discuss later on those other subjects that are not too favorable to me. Trigonometry, algebra. I loved it so much, because my teachers for those subjects, they explained very well.
Trigonometry is like marmite.
There is this kind of a paste or… it’s almost like… do you know Nutella?
Marmite looks like Nutella, but it’s… I don’t know exactly what they out in it, but it’s a very salty paste. And it’s not sweet. And it’s a thing that they say you either love it or hate it- that’s trigonometry.
Yeah. Most definitely. Now, what were the opposite ones?
I can’t say that I hated too many subjects. I had a problem with math, trigonometry.
Yeah. And it really come down to teachers unfortunately. With math. I could have done quite well in math. Again, I think change in school didn’t help me, because I was kinda in the middle of learning my timetables, and I was a bit lazy, I didn’t enjoy that.
Maybe my own fault. I never really got the grips of that. So even today I’m not great at counting in my head, and doing timetables and stuff. But I’m better than I was. But I had… particularly when I was 14-15-16 I was bad, I had a bad math teacher.
I mean, very very smart, knew math very well, worked professionally in design of cars, and so, very very good with math, but hadn’t got developed…
That’s a problem. It’s a one thing to know your subject matter, and it’s another thing to explain it as, you know, as clearly as possible. I got you.
So it was… I mean, it wasn’t the subject per se, cause I actually did pure math at university, also hated it. It really kinda reminded of school, but while I did calculation for practical use, to work out how much should be put on a bridge and things like that.
I enjoyed it! I enjoyed that you can get to exact figure at the end, there’s pureness to it, and it… I enjoyed just the search for the truth kinda, I guess. In the sense of it.
You’re working it out, and maybe you can go back and change something because you missed it the first time. And I enjoyed that actually. It’s not that I hate math per se, but I think it was me it was too difficult to.
And that’s why you didn’t really appreciate it. Any other subjects that you didn’t necessarily like?
No. So, at the end, when we went to senior high school, we had a choice – we could choose between history and math. Sorry, history and geography. And I chose geography, because I enjoyed it more in junior high school.
Although I also enjoyed history there. And so it was kinda of a …. Decision for geography or history, and in the end, I didn’t enjoy it as much in senior high school. I still enjoyed it and did well, I think, in geography, if I remember correctly.
Well, as for me, when it comes to my least favorite subjects, I really hated chemistry and physics. Chemistry because it was too difficult to understand, and the other thing was, well, just like you, I don’t think our teacher did a good job at explaining things.
The other thing was he had favorites. And I remember I was asked about the definition of temperature, and then I raised my hand, I was so eager. ‘Anyone here who can give me the definition of temperature?’
And I said ‘me! Me! Temperature is the degree of hotness and coldness’. Do you know how he reacted? He said ‘Can somebody give me, you know, not elementary definition or a higher level definition?’ I didn’t know… it was hard! I thought ‘oh, okay, it wasn’t good enough for him’.
Why do you need to make it complicated?
I don’t know about him. Anyway, because of that I thought ‘okay, I’m just gonna shut my mouth’. And anyway, the subject itself is complicated. And the other one, as I already mentioned, is physics.
You know, I’m not good at it, I mean, if we’re talking about technical sciences, that’s not my thing. So it’s not a good thing to cheat, but I remember before… We had a test, and I had to remember some formula, and I couldn’t remember it.
It had something to do with, of course, physics. So I tried to cheat, but I was caught. That just added to my hatred towards the subject.
It’s bad experience. Do you think that neither were taught well or were they just too hard anyway? Not for you…
I think they’re just too hard. Plus the fact that I didn’t really like my, you know, teachers.
I never mentioned French! It’s not that I didn’t like French. But it wasn’t that I had anything against French teachers per se, although my first French teacher was actually notorious. I mean, we heard about how angry she got even before we got to the class.
And we were like… And because of that I was like ‘right, so I’m not going to learn French’. I think I kinda already decided not bother. If she’s really as bad as I’m told, I’m just not gonna learn from her.
That was my little Sam’s mind. I’m not gonna learn from her. And she was, you know, she was really… She got really borderline violent in the class.
Yeah! Like, she would throw a chair. Not to hit anyone, but she would, like, throw a chair, I mean…
If there were rules like she could’ve hit students, I think it would be quite dangerous to be in her class.
I’m sure she would’ve done that.
Because of my French I suffered a lot. But I had a really good French teacher afterwards. Really good guy, and it meant that I did much better than I could’ve with her.
So, as you mentioned, teacher factor, I think it plays a big role. In the, you know, students’ life. And the way he or she performs at school.
And speaking of which – did you have any favorite teachers?
Yeah. I really liked my English teacher in senior high school.
Oh I’m sorry. I wasn’t paying attention.
Ken you need more coffee.
Yeah, I think so. Go ahead.
I really liked my English teacher, who taught English. He wasn’t from England, he taught English. He was… I don’t know how old he was, maybe he was about my age now.
He was quite young, but nor super young. But we kinda looked up to him, at least I did. And he made it very relevant, very modern, and we could understand him, we could connect with him. And he explained a lot to us.
He was fun, but not to the point when we weren’t learning or anything. But he kept it interesting. History. The history teacher that I had in junior high school was also really good. The history of Northern Ireland, the UK is…
I don’t know, strange, especially the Northern Ireland maybe. It’s strange, difficult, even very sad and serious at times. But he managed to make it really interesting, like you could really enjoy his lessons.
The language he used – not like bad language, I don’t mean that, but the language he used, the words he used, trying to explain stuff, kept it really interesting. Very good.
I don’t know, emotive maybe language? Or maybe creative language. That’s how he explained history to us. He kept it interesting and relevant.
I wish I had a history teacher like that, because I do love history, but, well, the teacher wasn’t that good.
But you learned, you loved it despite the teacher.
Yeah, exactly. And I have to say, you know, just like you, I also appreciated my English teachers – in fact, all of them in primary school. I still remember her name, she is Grace Marcado. And then in high school it was <….> Antonio.
It’s not just about them, you know, teaching the language per se, or, you know, English, but it’s the way they carried themselves. They were always prepared, well-mannered. They knew how to keep the attention of the students.
At the same time they explained terms in a very easy way. One thing I liked about them was – they were very organized. You know, the things that I’m saying now…
You’re a very organized guy yourself, actually.
I’m not talking about the subject per se, but in general. The reasons why I appreciated them is because of the way they, you know, they handled the class. And overall they were just very professional. But relatable, very approachable.
So whenever we had some problems or the things that we didn’t understand really, we could just approach them, and they explained everything to us. Now, Sam. Do you have any advice to all the students out there who are listening to us?
Honestly? I know that’ll sound… They’ll all go ‘aaargh’, but honestly, if you want to learn, do your homework.
Do your homework. Honestly. You know why? I’m sure it’s the same for many many teachers, but I don’t give homework, just, you know, let’s make…
Yeah. What I try to do for homework, if I can, is give homework that’s gonna repeat what we’ve learned and help the students to remember what we’ve learned, to go over it again, so it sticks better in their memory.
Yeah. And to show them if there are any problems for them to understand what we talked in class, what we learned in class. So it’s there as a benefit, it’s kinda like an extra lesson. Or it should be. Ideally, I recommend it’s not done straight after the class, but that you have a little bit of a break.
Because you want to be able to jog your memory a little bit, so that it sticks better in your memory. Cause when you have to recall, when you have to bring it back into your head, that actually makes it, that action makes it stick there a little bit more.
I absolutely agree with that. Well…
If course. Teacher myself.
I’d be shocked if you were like ‘So, students, don’t do your homework. It’s a trick!’
No. As for me though, for all the students out there who are listening to us, don’t let grades or your mark define you. I have to say this, because…
That’s actually really good.
Because when I was a student myself, I was so grade-conscious, I was very particular with my grades, with my marks, I always wanted to be the top student to the point that I didn’t enjoy it. So I wish I had given myself more time to just enjoy.
And then thing here is that you should also try to make out of… I mean, your experience. Don’t forget that you’re still a human being after all. I’m saying that you don’t have to be responsible, you’re still have to, you know, it’s a part of life as a student.
But just make sure there is a balance, you know, as we say in adult terms, work-life balance. In their case…
Student and life, studying and life balance.
Exactly. So just don’t forget that you’re still human beings. So, I guess that’s about it.
Shall we outro this thing?
So, what shall we say? What have we talked about? We talked about what school looks like, feels like in our countries. What it was for us, what kind of pupils we were. Who and what we liked in school, and a little bit of advice about, you know, what we think is good.
So there you go. That was the craic about school.