Southerly: Primary School for Beginners
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Tell me it's not true.
Tell me it's not true.
But that was rather heart wrenching. I still have crystal clear memories of the intensity of my friendship and conversations with a boy called Ezra who moved towns when I was at primary school.
Susan Snowdon wrote:
Tell me it's not true.
I'm afraid it is.
I should mention, however, that this is a severely trimmed version of my original draft (to the tune of about 3,000 words). The longer version mentioned some nice things about the school. I had a very good teacher called Mr McLaren who had us making radio programmes (the only training I've had for that profession), and a deputy-headmaster who was an aspiring country & western musician. He led us in community singing on Fridays. I used to enjoy the singing (although, admittedly, not the C & W part).
I think I may have been assaulted on my first day at kindy. I vaguely recall a plastic spade and my face.
That was a nice gift David, thanks, and a good reminder that we all have poignant stories that inform our current stories.
I didn't know it then, but by Standard 4, the happiest of my school-days were behind me. From this point onward, things would begin to seriously deteriorate.
And yet you stayed in school all the way - right up to a PhD! If you ever work out why, let me know - the insight may help me save on my therapy bills ;-)
Ah...the good old days.
I remember my first day at school - I really really really wanted to have lunch at school, Mum wanted me to come home for lunch, she said that if she couldn't provide lunch she'd bring me lunch at school - being completely clueless I sat at the school gate waiting (probably while my mother worried about what had happened to her 5 yr old on his first day walking to/from school)
Some days later I got the strap, no one ever explained why
I am emotionally crushed by this post. Is there some way we could all go back in time and comfort tiny David Haywood on his first day of school? And little Troy, too?
I think that the bulk of kids just go with the flow and accept that the good and the bad stuff is normal. Sadly this often forms otherwise intelligent kids into mediocre performers. The really interesting kids are their own people and either live happily in their own world or rebel against the system. The system often attempts to "reform" these kids instead of celebrating them. Celebrations David!
Judi Lapsley Miller wrote:
And yet you stayed in school all the way - right up to a PhD! If you ever work out why, let me know...
Ha! I left school at sixteen. I would draw a significant distinction between school and university in NZ. I loathed school, but (more-or-less) loved my time at university. Which is why, as you rightly point out, they had such a difficult job getting rid of me.
Is there some way we could all go back in time and comfort tiny David Haywood on his first day of school? And little Troy, too?
Don't worry about me! But certainly spare a thought for Troy. My first draft of this piece had a big ranty section about the injustice of his treatment; I still seethe with rage whenever I think about it. But in the end I decided that the facts spoke for themselves.
As John Farrell noted, such was life in the good old days. I'm always amazed when I hear people declare that the education system went to pot when teachers were no longer allowed to knock kids around (1986, I think, the year after I left school).
Ah, School days, best days of our lives, or so we are told.
A few short recollections.
1. Being beaten up by the school bully, when I was 8, while my form teacher looked on. I found out many years later that he had made a pass at my mother, divorced, and was soundly rejected.
2. An "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" moment at the ripe old age of 10 with Barbara Broadbent at her suggestion. I got a ruler across the back of my legs from the female history teacher, Barbara got sympathy. Equality? Bah!
3. Having my hand slammed in a train door on a school trip by the same teacher that watched me get beaten up. To this day I still remember the smirk on his face.
4. That very teacher confiscated a magnifying glass that I had sitting on my desk, that my Grandfather had given to me when I visited him shortly before he died. At the end of term that bastard teacher took the magnifying glass from his drawer, placed it on his desk, took out a hammer and asked the rest of the class "shall I give this back to Barnes or should I smash it?" Kids being kids you can guess the answer. Later that day, as we were leaving school, I asked my brother if he had any spare friends because I didn't have any.
I am now in tears.
My first teacher (in 1970) wasn't called Bundlejoy Cosysweet, but she may as well have been. Sadly I was born in July so I only had her as a teacher for a brief moment. The next year I was taught by Miss Miniskirts-long-legs who stood at the door after bell and whacked each child with a ruler as they came through the door late. I wonder if they taught unrestained violence at T'Coll in those days.
steve, that's so sad. i had a terrible teacher at around the same age, though she wasn't quite as deliberately cruel as that. i came across her about 5 years ago. all these years i was thinking that if i ever met her, i'd give her a solid piece of my mind. but when it came to it, i found that it just wasn't worth the trouble. but i hate that she's still at a school in this country, able to ruin the lives of many more children...
Steve, that is horrendous.
I once had a teacher privately tell me that even if I didn't do something I had been accused of, he would find 20 people to say I had. The same guy told me that my entire family was going to hell for not believing in God. Oh yes, school was great. Loved it. I skipped seventh form and got the hell out of there.
In reply to Steve Barnes:
Wow. All I can say is: fucking hell, Steve, what a nightmare. I always think the best thing about school is that fact that it's in the past. No-one will ever send us back, thank God.
Dinah Dunavan wrote:
I wonder if they taught unrestrained violence at T'Coll in those days.
Yes, you've got to wonder where they found those people? Surely, hitting children with rulers or knocking their skulls together was never part of normal teacher training. Never mind smashing up gifts from their grandparents.
RE: School bullies
It's funny what an established role this was (and still is, I expect). It was almost part of the official introductions when starting a new school: "This is Mr Ford, he'll be your maths master. This is Mr Staniland, he'll be taking you for Latin. And this is the school bully -- he'll be beating the shit out of you at the first opportunity."
Our school bully at primary school grew up to be an armed robber, and (as a grown-up) held up an eight-year-old in a dairy at knife-point.
My father has assured me, on multiple occasions.... that when he was a lad at primary school (1940s) that every boy was given the strap daily, just in case they had done something wrong!
He also assures me this basically encouraged them to misbehave, as they would still get it even if they were good.
I'm always amazed when I hear people declare that the education system went to pot when teachers were no longer allowed to knock kids around (1986, I think, the year after I left school).
On other matters, I did know some (not many) idiot teachers, and certainly some I clashed with and/or disliked, but never anyone cruel. Is this a generational thing?
I remember horror days too. The 50s! School was a cruel place. Teachers were all powerful and bullying ignored. Corporal punishment was rife although as a girl I was only stung with a ruler on the legs. Barbaric, though.
Relatively recently I was shunned by a local gym owner because he noticed I was a teacher and regaled me with his views about corporal punishment. "Bring back the cane, blah, blah, blah." After I demurred - politely but strongly - he was quite shocked and never talked to me again!
Mind you, as a teacher in a secondary school I've been very irascible at times - they started it! - it's hard to be "firm but pleasant" all the time. I believe that even in primary schools there are some very difficult situations which would try the patience of a saint or as my father would say "make a parson swear".
I can assure you that we are programmed these days to build good relationships with students and usually it works.
jeeeeeesus.... all i remember of my first day was being dropped off my step-father.
later in the day everyone got to eat fish and chips... FOR LUNCH!
i thought i was in heaven.
the hard-out bullying didn't start till i was about 11 or 12.
and @ steve. i say we find out if the old prick is still teaching. if he is. we form a posse!! victimising an old man is equal in the morality stakes to victimising a child.
David said: "I always think the best thing about school is that fact that it's in the past" ....
I used to think that too, I'd put it behind me long in the past ... until recently I was faced with the possibility of my son going to the high school I was mercilessly bullied at in forms 3-5 ... in my own little 30-years on PTSD moment I found myself waking at night, and just shaking at the mere thought of walking into that school .... fortunately we found somewhere better but it dredged up something I thought was long in my past
My only memory of New Entrants' was the aftermath of a trip to the local aviary. Despite being told, several times, not to put our fingers through the cage wire, a boy had done it. Once we got back to school, our teacher explained that the boy had disobeyed, then actually put him across his knee, and very coldly and firmly smacked him several times.
Because, you see, putting his fingers through the wire might have got him hurt. It was for his own good really.
From what I've seen of my kids at a schol that really honestly does TRY, the 'punch you in the face' boy bully is very effectively dealt with, but how to manage the 'now nobody will talk to you and you'll find your bag in the toilet' girl bully is still a mystery.
I can recall that one of the nastiest bullies in my local community from J2 later turned up, a couple of years ago, on a list of fine defaulters who owed more than $500. Coincidentally or not, his father is the big cheese of a share broking firm, and also a board member of a trans-Tasman free-market think-tank.
On a related note, this is more a high school thing, but still relevant:
I must admit I also have fairly grim memories of school -- the grimmest of which all relate to places where my parents spent good money to send me. I can still remember the music teacher from when I was maybe ten sitting at the piano, leading the class in a song she had made up about one boy (I remember the words, from which I deduce his offense was nose-picking).
And the cane-happy chaplain who did more to convince me of the correctness of my atheistical views than any other person I have encountered in my life. I sometimes wonder if he was a double agent.
I believe that even in primary schools there are some very difficult situations which would try the patience of a saint..
Some American teachers can now deal with this by packing heat.
I wonder if they are allowed to just blaze away at recalcitrant kids, or if they convene a firing squad during the next assembly.
Are you sure? I remember being yelled in in 4th form (1986) by my French teacher who assured me that if was still able to cane me he'd have flayed my hide over some piece of minor impertinence.
(For the curious, being too lazy to come up with 7 outfits for the week I explained I'd have a pair of trousers and a shirt especialy for Monday, another for Tuesday, etc. Quite how this merited a hide-flaying is beyond me...)
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