I was born in 1946 and school was not the best place for me.
All those teachers filling my head with a bunch of stuff I didn’t really need to know about.
Most of the time my mind wandered. I knew they were there to help me learn but they had no time for slow learners. Me being one of them.
It was my own fault, I stopped listening.
I stopped respecting my elders when they made me feel so small after getting something wrong.
There was no political correctness in my day. Messing around in class got me sent outside, where I would make faces at them through the window.
This would get me sent to the Heads office and Sister Joseph and her cohort, Sister Agatha. I would be expected to hold out my hand so this six-foot sister of God could give me six of the best. How could they call it that?
I let it happen once and swore never to let these creatures use the cane on my hands again. Especially after teaching us religious education, that God loves us, forgives out sins and shows mercy to everyone. How could those black clad beasts teach without an example?
I refused to hold out my hand. The shorter one, Sister Agatha held me by my elbow, trying to stretch out my arm, where afterward I could go home with red welts on my hand.
Remembering the pain from last time, I wouldn’t let her budge me. I didn’t think my crime deserved this kind of punishment. I pushed Sister Agatha aside and ended up biting her hand so she would let go of me. Not good I know, but I wanted her to feel the pain.
Most of the teachers liked to whip out the cane in class too, embarrassing you by making you stand in front of your friends when they did it. I never learned not to question the lessons of the day, but they did get things wrong. After pointing this out, I was expected to stand in front of the class and let her whack my hand with the cane.
Not on your nelly. I walked out and then ran home. My mother wasn’t helpful. She said I must do as I was told.
I couldn’t answer her back for she was never wrong. I couldn’t expect sympathy about the cane either, for mother liked to use the belt when I became too much to handle. I spent a lot of my time between a rock and a hard place.
Don’t feel sorry for me, I didn’t turn out so bad. I found a way to educate myself thanks to the one good thing Sister Agatha did. She called on one of the old retired teachers to help me and others to read. So once I had it in my head that words are not always spelled as they sound, I read my way through the school library. Spelling, however, slipped past my brain. I still don’t get it right. Jaye helps me with the stuff I write, so all’s right with my world.
School education, you can stick it, but I made sure my kids did their homework.
My one big thing was about hitting my kids and this was not going to happen, nor would I let anyone else do it. I managed to get into more trouble over this and ended up in the Heads office again. He had the cheek to ask why I told my kids never to let the teachers use the cane on them. “You walk out,” I told them. “Come straight home. I will take care of it.”
My answer was that I was their mother. That they had no real feeling for my kids and wouldn’t pull back when lashing out with the cane.
I remember the bruising on my brother’s hands. I couldn’t let someone who was meant to teach lay their hands on my kids this way. I remembered my mother going mad at my brother’s teacher when he did it. I was there, loving every moment. She made him feel so bad in front of his class.
She did no more, she pulled out the cane from the desk and broke it in half. The next day, I did the same. While the rest of the class were out playing, I went into each class and broke the canes, leaving them on top of their desks. No mean feat at eleven years old. The look on my teacher’s face was a picture I still treasure to this day. I know things are better now. They cannot lash out and smack your children. What I do know, is that not all teachers are saints.
Some of them know how to make a child feel small, using words in ways that hurt while trying to teach young minds not to fight, not to call each other names or make fun because someone wears glasses.
In my opinion, kids are much the same as they were years ago. Some good and some not so good. I see them outside my window on their way to school, pushing and pulling each other about, shoving each other into the bushes outside my house. Good fun for some, maybe not for the one trying to extricate himself from the bush.
At least the cane has been abolished. I think people of a similar age will know how I felt back then. At least I hope so…
I do have some sweet memories that often filter through my mind, of the spoonful of malt every morning before class and being milk monitor, handing out the small bottles of milk. I think they were trying to take care of our health more than our minds…