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September 04, 2008

Back to school ....

Da Goddess has a fun post up on her blog about her school memories. It sparked me wondering about the things that stay with me from my school days. So what did I enjoy at school? What did I hate?

What are your back-to-school memories? Tell us about one. Your memory can be your own, or one from watching your child go to school, or a story inspired by a memory, or anything back-to-school-y. Either way, make us smell the must of the chalk or the acridity of teen spirit.

The Rules:

* Try to write your entry in 10 minutes. This encourages top-of-mind, primal thinking before the ego and judgmental brain kick in. Just set a timer, make your kid count to 600 slowly, whatever. It’s an honor system. And I trust you.
* Aim for 250 words or less.
* Please have fun. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Together, let’s rediscover the simple joy in the writing process.
* Post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.

Well here goes mine. It was my first day in the Senior School and I was unsure of where to go or what to expect. I knew it wouldn't be the same as the Primary I had attended for the previous seven years even though it was the same "family" of schools. The Selborne Schools, Primary and College, are famous in South Africa and, in my day, had a reputation for academic excellence and sporting achievement. In South Africa the senior school, Selborne College, is one of the oldest non-private (Or in English terminology "Public") schools and equated roughly to a Grammar School.

The memories of that first day are mixed. It was a complete sea-change for all of us, but at least I had the company of many of my friends from the Primary. The smell of the classrooms was a mix of chalk dust and books, of half eaten sandwiches and quietly moldering rubbish stuffed into the ancient desks. It took some getting used to changing classrooms every period and some of the teachers seemed quite threatening. Some turned out to be brilliant and some lost us completely. It was at this point that I lost the plot with Mathematics completely, but we had brilliant English and History Masters who brought the subjects to life, the sciences were good as well but Commercial Aritmetic and Bookkeeping were bottom of my list. Our Latin Master was a Rugby player of note (Provincial Cap) and our Headmaster an austere man who was also a Methodist Lay Preacher. His daily assemblies were memorable. He and the Latin Master spoke Latin to each other, something, I realise now, was a bit of snobbery on their part.

The "Old" School, still in use, but now extended considerably.

I look back in some surprise at what I did learn from them and what I did not. I learned to avoid certain things and which teachers I could get by with and which ones not to even try to hoodwink. I suffered sports (I'm not the sporting type) and gave them up as soon as I could. My "sports" have always been sailing and rowing and I happily did these on my own. I collected broken ribs and a damaged shoulder from rugby, a smashed knuckle from cricket and knocked myself out landing badly in the gymnasium. But on that first day - all this was in the future. On that first day we found ourselves being introduced to a range of teachers who were legendary characters, "Dronkie" Muller (Mathematics), "Champ" Champion (Biology) (Suffered badly from Shell Shock and "heard" people talking in class), Tony Grogan (Art), Mister Carlson (History and Geography) (Provincial Rugby Cap), Mrs Stonier (English), "Piggy" Parker (Latin)(His nickname arose from his having a small pig farm as a sideline), "Charlie" Corbett (Bookkeeping and Commercial Arithmetic) and Mister Stonier our Chemistry and Physics Master. To my shame I can't recall the name of the Afrikaans teacher we had, but his nickname was "Oupa" - meaning Grandad. I obviously learned something from him since I can still speak it reasonably well!

On balance I did well, but, as my reports so often said, I could have done much better. I'm glad I had the good fortune to attend such a good school, I just wish my kids could have been so fortunate.

Posted by The Gray Monk at September 4, 2008 08:36 PM

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What a great post. And I think it's wonderful that you can look back and see it so clearly. I love the teachers' nicknames, the latin, all of it. Thanks for giving this one a go! Make sure you ping Deb for this so you get a few more to enjoy the post.


Posted by: Da Goddess at September 5, 2008 05:10 AM

That's a nice piece of work

Posted by: UtimeSakkam at September 10, 2008 06:07 PM