A stroll though some memories that stand out to me, from my time in school…
Age 11: Mum, is this OK?
A few moments ago my brother and I were laughing like monkeys while grabbing our coats to leave school.
A teacher happened to see us playing together and walked over, with such a look of surprise;
“How on earth do you two know each other?!”
“He’s my brother!” I proudly announce, still catching air from our last joke.
“Well!” he says, “to think that you two could be siblings! And even get along so well!”
Then the teacher walks away.
Smiling at the oddness of that comment, I turn to my brother;
“Ha! What a weird thing to say!”
“No,” he looks at me, his voice hollow; “it’s because you’re clever and I’m stupid.”
…Wh? Where did that come from?
What do our Teachers even know about us?
…hardly anything; our grades.
‘Do it my way to get an A’ – this is more than a game they like to play?
Grades matter? They define us so fully it’s surprising we’re even friends?
I look at my brother and see that, regardless of intent, he has defined himself.
Yet his joy is worth infinitely more than every A, sticker and prize I’ve ever been given.
School: please take them back… I don’t want them any more.
Age 14: Let’s talk about hate.
Some friends and I are on a wall by the supermarket.
A lady comes nearby to put away her trolley.
She looks at us and says, so full of anger; “Haven’t you got anything better to do!?”
Then she goes away.
Of course, she never meant it as a question.
In her busy life there’s no time to hear my voice:
“Mum asked me to be here for her after school, my friends are keeping me company…”
This was just a comment.
An expression of her frustration that we Students loaf around in class all day.
We have everything on a plate.
We are ungrateful and have the nerve to sit here in public taking up space and air with our talking!
I understand the hate.
Our academic awards don’t help her.
Our school attendance doesn’t improve our community.
Our extracurricular activities don’t mend our world.
But, doesn’t she understand?
School makes us wait.
School says, to be useful, we must first do well at school.
Age 18: Feeling the fear.
Universities sent me offers without any meeting or used interviews as sales pitches but, the Oxbridge interview was an experience.
This was the first time I’d ever been given a problem without a formula to solve it.
I loved it!
I loved struggling!
I threw out some facts I did know, looked up for some encouragement, some hint at direction, some conversation perhaps and, in response, the interviewer started reading his newspaper with a look that said; “You’re wasting my time.”
Was I ever capable of this kind of thinking?
Or is this my limit?
Is school a means to keep testing us until we fail and accept our place?
Another university has sent an unconditional offer.
I can leave school now and still have a place in September.
No more of their exams for me!
“Errr, I don’t think it works like that…” my friend counselled.
Ultimately, I’m scared.
I’m afraid of ruining my future by making a dumb decision because I’m too naive, too stupid, to understand the purpose of school.
What do I know about this world?
Who am I to question anything?
These short reflections came from a little (public) writing challenge I took part in; one blog a day, to be posted on the hosts website, for seven days.
These sorts of challenges are everywhere and, when one pops up at a good time for me, I tend to play knowing how it helps shake writing cobwebs and fears over hitting publish away.