I’ve been agonising about the tone and content of this post for a week or so, and its taken me a lot of thought to decide if I should post this.
I’ve decided to write an abridged version, as every other version I’ve written has ended with quite a bit of bad language.
I went to a good school, not one of those private schools for the privileged, but a British state-funded Grammar school. So, yes, I did have things better than most, but at the same time, there was pressure to perform from day one. The first day started with a speech informing us that “for each one of you that made it, 20 other’s were waiting to replace us“. Fun.
“School days are the best days of your life“
In the UK we have a common phrase “School days are the best days of your life“. Well, that’s one of the most profligate all pervasive lies I’ve ever come across.
I was average
I was average, I passed by with average grades, not getting into trouble and also not excelling at anything. I was invisible.
Being “stuck in the middle” left me with little or no support. If you behaved poorly, there were people and processes to get you back on track. If you did well, teachers treated you better, and you got extra support. I got nothing,
Three Distressing Things
On the day before an exam, the OLD man offered this as support for all of those he’d been teaching for the last two years. “I hope you all fail, because that all you lot deserve“.
He was, I suspect, talking to the disruptive elements of the class, but to those of us that had been trying hard it hurt. It really hurt.
I am not afraid to admit that I wished ill of this sad excuse of a man for many years. He’s dead now, I once promised to dance on his grave. But, to be honest, given how unprofessional, aggressive and rude he was a teacher, I suspect plenty of others have already danced on that grave.
I know this sounds harsh, he really was a very nasty piece of work, if he could have used corporal punishment he would have. (He certainly did when it was legal).
The Old Man
One of the “Masters“, yes we had Masters and Mistresses!, once decided to make an example of me for doing something that everyone else did. I suspect I was an easy target, not likely to speak back. It left me with anxiety for years. I still have nightmares about it.
O, dear reader, this “piece of work” was one of the worst human beings I have met.
I once found out that she had been discussing me with other pupils. Not Professional! That incident cut me to the core. It stays with me to this day.
The Bitch was the type of teacher that only wanted us to repeat her view of the works we were reading. Sadly, said bitch, knew very little about Science Fiction, her views were formed purely from her academic literary background.
So, after I turned in an essay likening some of the themes in the masterpiece that is “The Handmaids Tale” to other sci-fi works, she tore me apart.
Years later I read an interview with Margaret Atwood that was broadly in-line with my hypotheses. I win bitch!
Mrs D****bith, you are frankly a terrible excuse for a teacher, and human being, that has done me (and others) so much long-term psychological harm that you should be ashamed of yourself, or locked up!
I’m sure none of these people even gave what they did to me, and others, a second thought. They probably didn’t even consider what they were doing and saying. My School, being a more “traditional” school lead me to think that they were allowed to get away with it, because of the history of the school’s teaching methods and successes.
Today I struggle to defend the school that I was once so proud to have attended, it’s not the school’s fault. It’s the fault of the few.
On RPDR they sometimes ask the contestants what they’d say to their younger selves. Well, here goes.
Me Now: Don’t take their crap, complain, you have a right to be heard, and to be treated properly, you have right to have these people investigated. These people are bullies, unprofessional, WRONG, and given what I know now, they are the failures. You’ve worked hard, your good at what you do and you are respected.
Me Then: Oh, right, I can?! (Me Then, thinks, acts and saves Me Now a whole heap of cash on therapy).