In fact, it was a little bit of both. And, approximately 50 years ago, I
spent time there (Public School 26, aka the Rufus King school) with an eclectic and wonderful group of kids, some of whom are still my friends (both real and Facebook) today.
In second grade, we had a frightening "command and control" teacher who wore a bun atop her head and held morning inspections, looking for scuffed shoes and dirty ears, which seemed as important to her as reading and math ability. If she taught small children today, she would be arrested (or at least outed on YouTube during one of her tirades). Peter, one of my classmates (who became a writer/producer) killed her off in an episode of Seinfeld. We all have memories of how she wielded her power over a group of terrified 8 year olds.
But we all seemed to turn out pretty well in spite of it. In fact, we went on to do some interesting things professionally and personally.
The "artistic" girl in the class (another Nancy) went on to launch a fantastic line of unique accessories. The most popular girl in the class (yes, another Nancy) always had great glasses and now teaches optometry and runs an eyewear department at a university. Michael, who ran circles around us in science, produces multimedia training programs for physicians. Felice (who was great at planning social events) is a spiritual guide. If we had been asked what we wanted to do when we grew up, none of us would have picked our current professions. And yet they all make total sense.
Especially my profession. I was always a storyteller and writer and my dioramas (the classic 1960s class project -- a miniature scene made in a shoebox) were varied and sometimes a little weird. But now I blog...and create websites and brochures and other manner of creative media.
And no one checks daily to see if my ears are clean. What a relief!
P.S. The photo above is my 5th grade class. My fashion sense has improved dramatically since then.