Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sound the bells, school's in, sucker

"It's usually the parents who get upset, not the children," said the teacher, as I reluctantly handed over my four year-old for her first day at school.

Do the first few years actually fly over in no time? They've seemed more to me like a trudge through the High Altai in carpet slippers. By the time September 2006 came around, I thought I'd be getting demob happy and making up some celebratory mix tapes.

Not at all, as it turned out, because I hit a philosophical problem. Which is "how do you send your children off to school when you hated the experience so?"

My school years were pretty bad. My first school had psychotic nuns still chafing at having been denied the right to assault their charges. The second one wouldn't teach me the same alphabet as everybody else. The third put me in a class of thirty-nine in a bombed-out urban wasteland. The fourth broke the streak by being caring and nurturing.

But the fifth - how I hated the fifth - was an old-fashioned pull-your-socks-up-boy-we-demand-diligence-hurrah-the-first-XV tyrannical rusting rat-corpse-infested Gehenna in a sugar beet field. I loathed it from the moment I set my thirteen year old eyes on it to my contemptuous parting flob as the final bus pulled away.

School taught me was that you could hand any old shit in and, as long as it reached a bare minimum standard, it wouldn't matter because they couldn't touch you. School taught me that learning was a chore and that I was a lazy failure.

So you leave school and hopefully recover from it and time rolls around and suddenly you're dropping off your daughter in the care of a complete stranger and trying to get with the school ethos while secretly thinking, "if she's going to go through anything like I did I'd rather keep her at home and educate her myself."

Oh, it's not that I think there's something wrong with schooling, and not that my daughter's teacher or school are bad: they're much more caring and homely for a four-year old than my first school was. But for me school was like an abusive relationship and once I left, I tried never to think about it again. I appear to still have a fuming teenager bubbling up through my psyche.

On a side point, do many people who had rotten schooldays go on to become teachers themselves? Somehow, I imagine not...


Blogger doppelganger said...

then you imagine wrong my friend.....;-)

8:11 pm  
Anonymous Dick said...

Revenge might be a powerful motivation for a school sufferer taking to teaching. Or maybe the desire to radicalise & restructure, like A.S Neill of Summerhill School, whose own schooldays were horrendous. I wrote something about my very different schooldays for qarrtsiluni (http://www.qarrtsiluni.com/).

10:21 pm  

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