I hated school! As I moved from Infants, to Primary and then to Secondary, my hate and fear of school grew!
Becoming a teacher in later life may seem a strange career course to take, but I loved teaching and think I wasn’t too bad at it. It is one of those moments when I say, ‘I wished I had done it years ago!’
My viewpoint on teaching has changed, just as much as I think education has changed too. There are lots of problems still, the main for me is constant change! I’ve met some fantastic teachers and some that should never have been.
A point for those thinking of becoming a teacher; The four years I studied consisted of around 50% of meaningful studies based on teaching, and the remainder was a condescending, pointless waste of time. I was a Mature Student, and I must say many of those that had come from school, college and then into Teacher Training, loved it. I don’t think they knew anything different.
Back to why I hated school. I’m slow, and I need time to learn. The school was not geared to work at my pace. I slipped behind, and once I was behind, I would always be trying to catch up.
The infant school is a bit of a blur, and Primary has some memories still intact. The pace of Primary School was much slower, to the extent the content was not so great. I can remember just about managing to hang on. However, I remember when I realised something about me wasn’t the same as many of the other children in the class.
I suppose I must have been around ten—year 5 or 6 in today’s school terms. There were a load of us in the class, all sitting at our desks, in regimental rows. The teacher was writing on the board, and we had to copy. It went on and on. I reached a point where I couldn’t keep up; the words just blurred into a meaningless mass. I screamed at the top of my voice, ‘ Stop!’ Everyone stopped and looked at me. Not giggles, no laughing out loud, pointing or recriminations, just silence. I remember that sickening feeling so well! The next thing, the teacher had me by my ear and was dragging me out of the class and to the Head’s Office, which was right next door.
The words were a blur, but in raised voices, I was blamed for the outburst and no thought of why I had done what I had done: the result, the cane, four times on both hands. I didn’t shout out again! Ever!
I suppose you may be thinking, did they tell my parents, or did I tell them? I don’t think they did and I certainly didn’t. All I would have got is a belt for getting in trouble in the first place. Dad believed that school did the right thing, and it was up to me to learn and them to teach! Mum was almost on that level. They never once came to school; no I tell a lie, there was once; My Mum dragged me to the Head’s Office of my Secondary School, called Mercian in Tamworth and told the Head, in no uncertain terms, ‘You are here to teach and not tell him,’ pointing at me, ‘to get his hair cut’ and then she stormed out. Leaving me looking at a little red-faced head, that had some nice words of concern for me, before being told to, ‘Get Out!’
If I was the teacher, looking at me as a boy entering school life, would it be any different?
I would most certainly have been a child with Special Educational Needs; Statemented! I would have been grouped as dyslexic, although now I would class it as mild. I would have been seen as Autistic; I didn’t communicate well, and I’ve always been over the top when it comes to something that grabs my interest and totally not bothered when not. However, I was most undoubtedly introverted and very much a loner. I found it hard to make friends. I think this was down to feeling that everyone else knew what was going on. Anything so-called academic was a struggle, while practical things just seemed to be my thing, but this was of no benefit in my school days.
Saying all that, when I left Primary and into Secondary, I was in the top stream. Mercian Secondary Modern, had a tier system, that started with A, for Academic, which was the top tier, down to to P, for Physical. These were the mentally challenged and had no chance. I can’t remember how many levels, or tiers there were, about 5 I think. Now, in four years, I went from A to P! That has got to be some record. Definitely the only record I got at school, but the true story about that; do you remember the little red-faced Head I mentioned before, that’s a whole different story. Maybe I’ll tell you that another time.
Consequently, I got no qualifications, in fact, being in the Thickohs tier, meant you wouldn’t even get the chance to sit any exam. One good thing that came out of this; a Geography Teacher, I can’t remember his name, put me forward for all the, Outward Bound Courses going, and there were loads. I was away for a lot of the time on one course or another, much to the pleasure of the Head and Mum, she didn’t have to feed me. I can remember camping on the Brecon Beacons, climbing Snowdon, sailing on Cannocks Reservoir and Canoeing the Severn River’s whole length. There was always two courses of everything, the Basic and the Advanced and I took them all! These were a fantastic time that I loved and seemed to excel. It is strange looking back. Although much of what happened in these courses were team-based, I was still a loner. I think it is why I followed quite a unique army career.
As a teacher, I could see the child struggling and giving everything and had that perseverance necessary to succeed. I also saw those that seemed to find much of what was being taught too easy and as a consequence often stopped trying to do more.
The outcome of all this, I think I am about ready to start school. Not Nursery, but maybe Reception! I’d want to know everything!
How many children are out there now, like me then and still lost? I hope that they will be lucky enough to have one of the many excellent teachers out there today, who knows what they are doing and will spot each and every one of them!
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