I'm not one to typically take potshots at American public school systems (though I'm not going to begin to touch Common Core here). I can really only speak from my own experience with it, which was fraught with frustration. D for diploma, right kids?
Actually, for the most part, I was a C student. That actually includes college. My major (psychology) was not the best fit for me, and I didn't realize it soon enough to be able to change. College is expensive, y'all, and there was no way I was going to be able to go for a 5th year. And oh yeah, my college of choice's credits were notoriously untransferable, so I wasn't going to be able to go somewhere else to finish either.
But I digress.
My interest in science with a capital S is recent, to say in the least. The highest level of science I completed in high school was Chemistry, and I don't much remember it, other than as a tremendous yawn fest. My highest level of math completed in high school was Trigonometry, and that was taken voluntarily and a tremendous mistake; my math requirements were fulfilled, and it's not like I was interested in math. I just didn't have much in the way of electives.
But math was typically taught to me in this manner: On Monday, say, we went over the weekend's homework and had a lesson about it. On Monday night, we were supposed to read the next chapter, which presented the next equations (or whatever) we were tackling; we were then to do those problems, which we would go over Tuesday. And so on. See the problem? I couldn't teach myself math, and couldn't do the homework, as I wasn't taught how to do those problems prior to leaving school. So I stopped doing homework, as it was clearly designed to ruin my life.
Now with science, I would've had to get to physics in order to hit the topics I'm interested in: nukes and space (though some of it could conceivably have been covered in Chemistry, it was not, to my recollection). But you didn't get to Physics without going through Chemistry first, and I didn't take Chemistry 'til my senior year (I didn't take Biology with a lab, initially, so wasted a year and then had to take lab Biology to fulfill graduation requirements. Oh, my guidance councilors did me so many favors).
So, because I wasn't "good" at math and science, I was never able to be in advanced English courses. English was where I really shone, as you might guess. I read at a fifth grade level in second or third grade (I don't remember), and sure, I was in college prep classes, but not AP. Even college prep was sometimes too slow for me (though no less full of busywork homework....) I tended to read the books assigned to my class, and then books I saw written on boards for other classes. That's how I met Lord of the Flies and The Great Gatsby; my classes didn't read them, but other classes did.
I feel like home schooling would have been great for me in my high school years. That kind of self directed study (maybe unschooling is the actual term I needed?) may have brought me to my current interests and goals much faster. I feel as though I've learned far more on my own, after high school and after college, then I did during school. I also feel like the Internet has really fostered my learning and personal education, which is funny, because it seems to allow other people to have become very stupid indeed (I've seen articles on it. Was it Newsweek? Time?)
What do you think? How was school for you?