With end of term exams looming we have had lots of discussions about school this week. This sent me on a trip down memory lane as I reflected upon my own youth. I have such fond memories of my school days, especially the sixth form and hope for the same for my children. However, it strikes me how much things have changed and I doubt that they will get similar experiences. If the kinds of things occurred today that happened to us it would trigger an Ofsted inspection! Is that a change for the better or the worse? I’ll let you decide…
Memories of my school days;
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash
One of our humanities teachers had prosthetic hands following a childhood accident. If we were too chatty or not paying attention we would get a swift knock on the head from his prosthetic. Also, consider what sound a metal hand dragged across a blackboard makes? It certainly gets your attention! It was all good natured and it was accepted that it served us right. How times have changed.
Another teacher had a second job as a bouncer in a local nightclub. As long as you were more or less old enough he would let you into the club. He made sure that you were okay and always stepped in if you had any trouble. I remember this fondly. However as a parent I cannot imagine being impressed with a teacher moonlighting in a nightclub!
On one occasion our school mini bus broke down on the motor way. A few of us girls needed the loo so the teacher sent us (alone) over the neighbouring fields and told us to “find a house”. The health and safety implications of this make my hair curl. Thankfully we came across a delightful old couple who let us use their facilities but honestly we could of ended up in a very tricky situation.
It is true that you remember a good teacher throughout your adult life. Sadly we also remember the not so good teachers too. One of our English teachers was known for ‘liking a tipple’. You could judge the state of his inebriation by his demeanour. He would be vibrant and over the top (still drunk) or make us spend the lesson reading out loud to each other (hungover). How we passed any exams in that subject is anyone’s guess.
Today my children seem to do much less pe than we did. They don’t even do swimming past junior school unless the school has it’s own pool. With hindsight I can see a much greater movement towards safety and although it may not be as much fun for the pupils, as a parent I am glad that things have changed. We had children knocked unconscious by a discus, children with darts stuck in their arms and broken limbs and nobody batted an eyelid.
Swimming lessons as we progressed through the years seemed to be less about fetching bricks in our pyjamas and more of a free for all. I think once the teachers knew we could swim they stopped caring. Swimming for us was a highlight of the week. We invented our own hybrid water polo/rugby game and it basically turned into water wrestling! One of my friends broke her foot and the response was “Meh, stuff happens”. Can you imagine you child breaking a limb at school and not batting an eyelid?
Our sixth form was based out of two schools with a mini bus service running between. Some of our group ‘kidnapped’ another by blindfolding him, taking him on the bus and abandoning him at the other end. They thought it was hilarious until the next day when the head of year called a special assembly to inform us that the boy was missing and the police were searching for him. Oh the guilt. Turns out the joke was on us and the ‘missing’ pupil was lounging in the staff room as we squirmed.
Instead of a prom we had end of term discos in a local nightclub. Lets just say it got messy. This is the stuff of legends. On a personal level I am so glad that smart phones did not exist and my own embarrassing stories shall stay on the down low. I think social media can be a brilliant tool but once it’s out there it’s out there forever and the implications of that do worry me.
Of course these tales don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the fun that we had. We made such strong bonds and are still friends 20 (lets be honest nearing 30) years later. I have amazing memories of my school days and I want the same for my children. Will todays’ climate change things for them? Probably and that is both good and bad. I hope that a balance can be found between safety and fun that will allow them to flourish and to make their own memories of fantastic times with friends.
Do you think your children’s memories of school will be wildly different from your own?