I first posted this in July 2010, but consider myself academically confident enough to do so again.
It's probably true to say that Cro did not have a 'brilliant' start to his academic career. Day dreaming, Drawing, and Fishing for tiddlers in Farmer Bell's pond; all took priority over Latin, the dates of Historic Battles, or the confused workings of Mathematical Theorems.
Above is my very first proper school report from this small private school in East Grinstead, Sussex; the headmaster of which was the brother of Patrick Gordon-Walker, a well known politician of the time (The headmaster of my next school happened to be the grandson of Gladstone)... I WAS 4½ YEARS OLD at the time of this report!!!
English: Quite good.
Writing: Fair, and will improve (Idiot! Of course one's handwriting improves after the age of 4).
Stories: Pays full attention.
Maths: Must try harder.
Nature study: Shows no interest.
Games: Noisy and rough (Yessss!).
Art: Quite neat and tidy (Nonsense!).
Handwork (?): Needs more care.
Singing: Good (I've always loved singing).
Conduct: Very disobedient (Some things never change).
General: A very uncooperative pupil.
Headmaster's Report: He must try to be more obedient and sensible. He has been very difficult to control this term, and has made little effort.
So, there we are; a 4½ year old boy who obviously enjoyed singing and listening to 'stories'. I quite expect that what I really wanted was to be LEFT ALONE, have the occasional wound patched-up by an attractive busty white-clad nurse, and be given a lump of raw meat to chew from time to time (Yes, I really did eat lumps of raw meat).
I'm sorry I don't have the school photograph with me in France that accompanies this report; it's hilarious. It shows a group of maybe 150 perfect, clean, smiling, happy, well dressed, angelic little children, with just one horrendous scruff-bag sitting in the middle of the front row. Guess who that was? Happy times eh!
OPEN LETTER. To the now long-dead teachers of Highfield School (especially SS). I eventually did pretty well in my 'Common Entrance' exam which enabled me to become a Latin Scholar at a highly academic upper school, got enough qualifications to go to university and ended up with a 1st Class Hons degree in my chosen subject. So I can't have been ALL BAD. You simply overlooked the fact that I had 'Artistic Temperament'.
So, SS (Miss Sargent) and Mr Gordon-Walker, you can stuff your silly report! I just regret that I was too young to suggest that you did so at the time.
I remember you going there.ReplyDelete
I remember bits of it very well, especially the outside.Delete
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I am surprised you weren't interested in Nature Study.ReplyDelete
I probably was, but the stupid teacher failed to see it.Delete
Sounds to me like a horrible place, I'm glad you were a bit of a rebel.ReplyDelete
All the other pupils must have been a bunch of wimps.Delete
My maths teacher wrote me off announcing to the rest of the class I would never come to much at 13 as I could t do algebra. I gave up after that and just looked out of the window dreaming of escape. What he overlooked was that I worked in an Italian ice cream/ coffee shop every weekend so could count had work ethic and Old Bridget owner believed in me. She taught me to save,plan and budget.!. Which I have done all my life. House paid for early, savings and retired to travel at 55. Kids just need 1 person to believe in them!.ReplyDelete
I was very aware of that in my short teaching career. I always looked for the best in the children, even if occasionally it was difficult.Delete
Wasn’t it awful to be assessed like that at the age of 4 ? I don’t suppose you can remember what your parents thought about it ? Two fingers ( or one middle one ) up to Miss Sargent and Mr Gordon - Walker !!! You had the last laugh. XXXXReplyDelete
At age 4 it was rather pointless. Of course we all changed a lot over the years so to say what they did was ridiculous.Delete
When I see that heartless, mindless report - you were 4! here they go to school with 6! - I am glad that I did not follow one career wish I really had: becoming an elementary teacher. My family was against it because of status - but I had another reason: I loved my internship there, and the children were oh so lovely, climbed on my knee and we had so much fun - but I thought with horror: I will never be able to say to a child that has given its best and tried hard: You: only a mark four! You: a boring three! And you a two.ReplyDelete
No - horror! I am glad till today with my choice.
PS: And isn't it interesting that such an injustice still makes our blood boil - after so many years? (And don't say it doesn't).Delete
When teaching I had to write reports too. As these were very important for children to get into their schools of choice, I always tried to write good things about them. Different times!Delete
You sound like a normal 4 year old boy, up to all sorts of mischief and only attentive when there was something to interest you, and even that for only 5 minutes. What the hell did they expect from a 4 year old.ReplyDelete
My sister-in-law used to teach that age group. She says that if, by the end of the first year, she got all of the children sitting still and listening, she'd be pleased. They'd then be ready for the next year.ReplyDelete
I could never have been a teacher. Not patient enough!
I enjoyed my time teaching, but prefer looking after my own children than those of others.Delete
Madness wasn't it! I remember those school reports. My parents paid little or no attention to them for all four of us taking the view, I believe, that the reports said more about the teachers than they did about us. I can vividly remember my brother coming home after Saturday morning school and handing his report to my mother who scanned it quickly and said that what she was reading was clearly not about J and the school had made a mistake and promptly throwing it on the fire.ReplyDelete
Your mother sounds very wise. I never took any notice of my own children's reports; unless of course they praised them.Delete
I think my parents would be judged as "not caring" by today's teachers although the absolute reverse was true. My mother attended one parent's evening at my school and said "never again". My brothers' progressive school never had parents evenings. I am surprised they even wrote reports.Delete
I would feel very proud of those non-conformist, rebellious credentials (although maybe not at the time unless I had been as non-conformist and rebellious as I would like to have been).ReplyDelete
I've always done things my own way, and never really considered myself to be rebellious. It was just how I was (am).Delete
When I got a scholarship (and a year early) my form teacher (within my hearing) said to me mother 'well she is by no means pretty but I have always thought she had an intelligent forehead'. It coloured my idea of myself for years.ReplyDelete
There's no reason for hurtful comments from teachers. They should keep their nastier thoughts to themselves.Delete
Very uncooperative pupil, superb.ReplyDelete
Atta Boy, Cro! Isn't it interesting how things begin to 'show' in our youth? My mother still has the check I brought home that I was supposed to give the school for my 'hot lunch'. She asked why I didn't give it to the school. Answer: The lunch wasn't hot. So there we go! Keep on.ReplyDelete
Sounds like you were something of a rebel too. Only pay for services rendered!Delete
I once had a notoriously venomous teacher /guidance councillor tell me I was going to be a "big nobody" and "amount to nothing" because I opted out of attending an expensive four year accredited college and chose instead an affordable two year "trades" college. Like Weave, that unkind comment followed me for a very long time. Years later, after started up and successfully running my own company for years, I bumped into that same teacher working in a supermarket handing out free samples. She'd been fired from her job and actually asked if I had any job openings. A bittersweet moment, but one that still makes me feel conflicted.ReplyDelete
I hope your answer was "No; I never thought you'd amount to much, and I was right".Delete
Yes indeed...the answer was no. She had a poisonous personality and would have, no doubt, undermined myself and my wonderful co-workers. So in the end, no regrets.Delete
You have reminded me of similarly unpleasant times at a small prep school but, unlike you, I got praised for my behaviour because the teachers thought politeness (even at 5) equated to diligence and obsequiousness.ReplyDelete
Later. when I went to the Corporation's Youth Employment Bureau (having given up my trainee accountancy position after a matter of weeks) the Head of the Bureau told me that I stood no chance of a career in local government. Not many year's later when I had become a senior officer in the Corporation (I was a singularly lucky person) I had a work meeting with the Director of Education at which the chap was present. I could see him scratching his head mentally right through the meeting. After it he asked me if we'd met before. I really did relish reminding him of our meeting. Particularly as I was then considerably senior to him. It was a childish but gloriously satisfying moment.
Thank you Cro. I had forgotten about those dreadful times which I can now look back on with happiness and wonderment.
I can imagine how extremely satisfying that must have been.Delete
I once won a bet about the name of a canal. This man had lived overlooking the canal all his life (he was about 60), and I was a youngish newcomer to the area. I bet him £10 that the canal wasn't what he'd said it was. He laughed in my face, until I was proved right. The event took place in our local Pub', and he was made to look a fool in front of all his friends; I felt rather guilty, but happy to win a very easy £10.
When I worked at the bookstore I used to see parents who had 4 year olds in "4K" preschool and often they came in looking for workbooks and supplies because their child wasn't learning to read as quickly as they thought they should! At 4 years old!! They expected them to read on a level that my generation wasn't attempting until 1st grade. I don't think it's healthy to push academics so early. 4 year old children should be given lots of free time and creative materials to work with, stories to listen to, plenty of time outdoors learning about the world...and certainly not expected to sit still in a desk for extended periods of time.ReplyDelete
No doubt I was expected to behave like the perfect schoolboy, instead of which I was just a 4 year old dreamer. I'm still a dreamer!Delete
As usual the comments as as interesting as the post xxReplyDelete
Nice to see you have taken charge of any negative comments tooDelete
Certain postings prompt interesting replies; this was one such.Delete
Oh, makes for a gorgeous momento! And "Must try harder" is the universal and international report joke. It's actually quite a scream to think that a 4-year old could be assessed. It should still be talking about how long you napped for, and whether you still eat like a caveman or spit at other children. That'd give your parents a better idea of how you filled those early school days!ReplyDelete
I remember my infants school had its passage to the playground pass by the doorless opening to the boys loos & vividly remember trooping out one day, en masse to "play lunch", and witnessing one hapless little boy standing at the urinal with his elderly (it seemed) lady kindergarten teacher teaching him how to pee standing up. My six-year old self scornfully thought, "baby"!
Your story reminds me of my early years at the school following the one above. Lets just say that I had one very attentive female teacher who would 'assist' me. I was about 6, and knew nothing of such things.Delete
Gosh, there's a memory for you!Delete
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