I was five when I first went to school. In those days, there was no kindergarten or prep, or anything like that. One simply went from full-time at home, to full-time at school. And to be honest, that first day, I didn’t know whether I wanted to go or not.
Now I don’t have many memories of Primary School. Indeed, the first years are mainly a blank. But what I do have is mainly negative. Because even in the early days, I remember being bored. And one day, I obviously misbehaved, as I remember spending much of the day outside the headmaster’s office in punishment for something I had done.
Now whilst the early years of Primary School are mainly a blank, perhaps the latter years reflect something of my schooling.
For example, I remember having swimming lessons at a nearby pool. Indeed, for a while the whole class would board a bus to go to the nearest school swimming pool for lessons. Unfortunately, the system was, that as soon as you could swim a width, the lesson was deemed to be learnt. After that you stayed back at school, filling in time, whilst the rest of the class went off for their lesson. And for me, that seemed very short sighted—after all, the pool wasn’t even a standard size width—and very unfair.
I remember making a model of Stephenson’s Rocket. Because I managed to dig the blade of a sharp knife into my hand. As a consequence, I spent the afternoon in a room near the head master’s office, waiting for the end of school, so that he could then take me to hospital to get some stitches (and pick up my mother on the way).
I also remember making some shields with plaster of Paris. Indeed, on one occasion, I was not only given a mould which a teacher had designed, but when the plaster was set I was given the shield which the teacher had by then painted. Now I don’t know why I was picked out for being given such an honour, but it was not my work. Consequently, I was very disappointed, and I was left totally unimpressed.
Other memories of Primary School, are but mere fragments.
I remember taking my turn being milk monitor. Because in those days every child was given a small bottle of milk at the mid-morning break. I remember being introduced to the coloured different sized blocks—Cuisenaire rods—as an aide to mathematics. Which at the time I thought was all too elementary. And I remember having French lessons in grade six, which we were told was in preparation for High School. But it left me wondering why they had left teaching a foreign language so late.
Now to me, Primary School was a place I went to, simply because I was told I had to go. It didn’t stretch me academically at all. However, I do have one fond memory. And that was being chosen for the lead role in a school musical. Now I have no idea why I was chosen. It’s not as if we had ever been given drama lessons or singing lessons. But, for some reason, I was chosen. And without having any real recall of the detail of the musical, I do remember that I had to play a mad professor who had built a rocket, and was planning to fly it to the moon.
Now this was still several years before the first moon landing. However, the whole concept of travelling to the moon appealed to my imagination. So, I took on the role with gusto. I don’t know if I was any good. But on reflection, it does seem to be one thing about Primary School that engaged my imagination. Nevertheless, time was ticking on, and High School was beckoning.
Now in my day, one went from Primary School, to either a Secondary Modern, a Technical school or a Grammar school, depending upon your ability. And it all hinged on the results of a test—the eleven-plus. Now considering that Primary School had failed to engage me, I hoped to at least progress to a Technical School—a school that might engage my imagination. Unfortunately, I failed the test, and so my lot was cast for Secondary Modern.
To be continued …
Posted: 4th June 2017
© 2017, Brian A Curtis