During my last home visit to Germany, I took on mission impossible and cleaned up my mom’s attic. While I sorted through long forgotten stuffed animals and children’s books, I found a letter with the all-too-familiar handwriting of my former elementary-school teacher. I cannot recall the exact words but the letter went somewhat like that:
Some children in class have difficulties with the learning material and are slower than others. This sometimes hinders the class’s progress. In order to accommodate everybody’s needs, I would like to divide the class into two groups. (…) Group B is the slower group. The following children will be in group B (…)
I looked for my name and sure enough I found it amidst the group B children.
I recall that I had difficulties in school or as I prefer to say, I was a day-dreamer. While the teacher would talk about, to me irrelevant things such as Math, I would simply stare out of the window, look at the trees, the birds, the clouds…just anything but my teacher or the chalkboard. Sure enough, every time I did this, I was “woken up” by the teacher’s shrill voice: “So Patricia, do you know the answer?” I remember feeling all eyes in the classroom starring at me. Of course I did not know the answer. I knew that, my teacher did, and now, sure enough my class did as well.
I went to school in Germany. At that time they called it West Germany up to fourth grade when the wall went down. My school was governmental and secular, and located in one of the suburbs of Frankfurt. The classrooms were very colorful. The walls were decorated with children’s artworks as well as posters of animals, numbers, and letters. In addition, we had a reading corner with many books and pillows to sit in.
Most of the children I went to school with came from high-income families. This became evident by mothers’ favorite conversation topic when they picked up their children: Well, my little boy here is going to become a doctor, to which the other...