OU blog

Personal Blogs

Design Museum

My School Years

Visible to anyone in the world

When you are asked to reflect on 'classes' observed it is inevitable that you begin to recall the best and worst of your own education, those 13 of 14 years from the age of 5. I'm helped by a diary kept from the age of 13, should I care to dig through it, as well as School Reports from the age of 9 or 10. Even 'letters home' being one of these rare, pour souls, who was sent to a boarding prep school when barely out of his infancy.

It rancours now less than it did for the first few decades on leaving. As a parent I cannot understand what would posses anyone to send an 8 year old away to such an institution 'because it was the thing that was done' my mother would say. It had never been 'done' in our family until then, short of my father being sent away during the Second World War at a similar age. 

The best lesson, I recall often, out of the mire of Latin which I loathed and was dreadful at, was the story of Romulus and Remus. Telling stories is the way to create memories.

The worst lesson was French. Words and phrases were drummed into us to learn parrot fashion. We were tested on the fly and I could rarely keep up. Given a written test, two of us with very poor marks were threatened with corporal punishment unless out score were higher coming back from half term. The troublesome side of school was not discussed at home; perhaps my mother took no interest. Parents divorced there was not father to quiz me further. Somehow I got the required mark, though I don't recall trying to learn any of the phrases. My friend did not get the mark and was caned. Years later we know he was dyslexic - and that I am ADHD. I was slow to read. My spelling terrible - and that was in English. I loved France and French though. I had to learn it in context, through total immersion and a French exchange in my teens (even though by then I had given up French as a subject). Oddly, I do still learn French 'parrot fashion' using Lingvist. But it is a gentle, supportive, measured method with repetition, replay. Early on I would attach a visualisation to a word in order to help its recall. I've gone, over three years, from a vocabulary of 753 to over 3,300. My plan is to get to 5,000. I speak French from time to time to through a group of French speakers (including mother tongue speakers).

I could recall other classes. I'll save them for now. Reading out in class? Lines of Shakespeare and Hardy. What was that about? To make sure we got through the text before we analysed it? Could I only enjoy the classes I was good at, like art? Whilst Maths never appealed the teacher was brilliantly attentive and keen: I got A grades at Maths and Advanced Maths, even a B in physics. We had some good teachers ... and some bad. Oftentimes we learn despite them.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

This blog might contain posts that are only visible to logged-in users, or where only logged-in users can comment. If you have an account on the system, please log in for full access.

Total visits to this blog: 7204586