Fifty years ago…

LT wrote a blog post about one of his schoolmasters, whom he remembered as a decent man, but recently a different side was shown on a website about the school, where another ‘old boy’ recalled him as having a heavily disciplinary side, which Tim didn’t know of at all.

I went to an all girls’ school, where it was different, of course.  No one ever laid a finger on us, it just wouldn’t happen, though caning and so on was still a feature in many schools, I was given to understand.  Were girls ever hit in any school?  I don’t know.  It’s just so wrong now that it can hardly be imagined.  I do remember thinking about the subject once – there must have been some trigger for the thought – and I knew that, if ever there were any physical discipline perpetrated on me, I would never return to the school.  My parents would have backed me up, too.

What I did remember though was the one time that I was given “lines” to write.  It was a gentle school. I don’t remember any punishment ever, except for one teacher’s rather nasty verbal sarcasm.  One girl, a year older than I, was expelled for smoking on the premises, but that was another matter.  And, I acknowledge, I was a good little girl.  I kept my head down, didn’t join in, didn’t argue, didn’t misbehave – and I wasn’t the easiest pupil because I was so disengaged from anything that didn’t enthuse me.  But for some reason – probably extreme untidiness and not having done anything but the sketchiest homework – an exasperated teacher gave me 100 lines.  So unpractised at doing so was she that she didn’t say what I was to write or when I was to give them in.

That night, deeply irritated, I sat down at my desk at home – a rather nice little mahogany folding writing desk which is now in my sister’s house – and contemplated a piece of paper.  I started to write something.  By the third repetition I was bored.  By the seventh, it being on unlined paper, my writing had started to slope down.  I wrote the first half of the next line and it sort of joined up with the second half of the line above.

Very soon afterwards, I stopped bothering and threw the paper away.  I never mentioned it to the teacher and she tactfully didn’t mention it to me.  I didn’t change my behaviour or attitude – actually, it was History, which I liked and was good at – and that was that.

I do have another memory, which demonstrates the kindness of the school.  It was a convent and, one day, I was going downstairs for assembly and there was an elderly nun in front of me.  I was in a hurry and she wasn’t and I accidentally trod on her habit and brought her to a snap halt.  Of course, I immediately said “I’m sorry, Sister,” and she turned and gave me the sweetest smile.  And then, of course, we walked slowly down together.  I actually never saw any of the nuns being unkind or losing their temper, they were genuinely good people.  Though, as we girls all agreed, weird.

6 comments on “Fifty years ago…

  1. DIANE J PATMORE

    At primary school boys and girls “got the strap” for even minor infringements.

    I recall my class teacher rapping my 7 year old knuckles with the edge of her (wooden) 12″ ruler. For what? Having the temerity to say that financial arithmetic would be a whole let easier if we just had ten pennies to a shilling. 13 years later the country went decimal!

    Reply
  2. Kipper

    I do remember. middle school teachers having paddles with small holes for disciplining students. One girl in my class was hit on the bottom three times with the paddle. Her offense was having a pack of cigarettes in her open purse. The teacher was known for liking to paddle students.

    Reply
  3. Z Post author

    However many things have changed for better or worse, at least teachers aren’t authorised to hit children any more and it is dreadful to think that they did in our lifetimes. I’d have walked out, honestly.

    Rog, I can always rely on you. And I mean that in the best way 🙂

    Reply
  4. allotmentqueen

    I got the cane, I think for being late which was a bit unfair since I came by bus, in last year of junior school at a Catholic school

    Reply
    1. Z Post author

      I’m horrified, AQ. Again, I realise that, for all its faults educationally, my school was actually quite progressive and certainly kind. That would not have happened in my childhood – and, if it had, I’d have been removed from the school forthwith.

      Reply

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