The Bracketeer


February 22, 2020 by

A sad story from 1999

I was 5 years old when I moved from India to Norway with my family. We moved because my father wanted to do graduate work at NTNU in Trondheim, Norway. My parents decided to send me to an International school, so in case we decided to move back to India, I wouldn’t have much trouble adjusting.

That changed when I was 8 years old. Things were going well and my parents decided to settle down in Norway. This meant that I needed to learn Norwegian. I was therefore moved to a special school in Trondheim, where I would learn enough Norwegian over the course of a year to be able to transfer to my local Norwegian school.

In August 1999, I attended the first day of school. I always liked the start of the school year, because we would get new books. My favorite subject was always math, so I was especially looking forward to getting the new math textbook.

At the end of the day, I packed all the books in my Lion King backpack and took the bus home.

When I arrived home, I immediately took out my new math book and started working through it. “It’s quite easy”, I thought to myself. I knew most of the material already.

Before I knew it, a couple of hours had passed, and I had finished the entire book.

I felt quite happy and proud of myself.

The next day, I was excited to show my new teacher everything I’d done. I was especially excited because I was sure that I would get a new, more challenging book to work on.

It didn’t quite turn out that way…

When I told my teacher, she took me aside and started yelling at me. She asked me “What are you supposed to do for the rest of the semester?!?”.

I felt sad and ashamed.

I was instructed to erase my work. I used the same book for the rest of the semester like all the other students.

I think about this story often. Why did it happen?

As I got older I knew I wanted to do something to fix this problem. Every day, hundreds of millions of students go to school and have a similar experience. They are either bored, struggling or they just don’t care. Are there some amazing teachers working in the school system? Absolutely! I’ve had some myself. But the whole system is a one-size-fits-all model. And it just doesn’t work.

That’s one of many reasons why we started CurlyBrackets.

We want to make CurlyBrackets a place where any student can join and start growing and learning at their own pace. A place where students can discover different learning styles so they can learn how to learn. A place where they can get challenged by working on problems that are hard. A place where they can create projects that they care about and are proud to show off. A place where they can befriend and team up with other students and feel like they belong to a community.

We are still very early in our journey and we have a long way to go. But we are very hopeful about the future because we get to work with some amazing students (your kids!) every day.

We want to be part of the solution. Because our kids deserve the best.

Do you have a school story to share? We would love to hear it!

Rafid


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