Friday, 28 June 2013


Yesterday, before I got distracted by my lack of intelligence, I was going to write about my favourite primary school teacher. He was someone to be frightened of, if you weren't in his class. He was pretty terrifying if you were in his class, but I've noticed that he is fondly remembered by many people in a Facebook group related to my old school. He was very 'old school' (forgive me) in that he hurled board-rubbers and bits of chalk at anyone who wasn't concentrating, and so we all quickly made sure we concentrated. He got cross when we complained at how hard maths was, and he told us that we didn't know what we were talking about: we had it easy. When children groaned at that, he made us spend a whole morning working out problems in pounds, shillings and pence, in pounds and ounces, and feet and inches (we were 8 and 9 years old). He banned the word 'nice' and told us that we wrote boring and predictable stories. To 'help' us become more interesting, he gave us spellings to increase our vocabulary. So I learnt to spell words like 'serendipity', 'discombobulate' and 'chiaroscuro', amongst others. (I admit that I still have to check the spelling of the third one.) Because we kept getting our punctuation wrong, he banned apostrophes, and we spoke like members of the royal family for a day. 

After spending a couple of weeks in fear of upsetting him, we realised he actually had a wonderful sense of humour, and we revelled in his sarcasm and biting comments. I remember a day when he decided my fringe was stopping me seeing my books properly and he ordered me to get it out of the way. Telling me he had no 'female fripperies' such as hair clips, he took the largest bulldog clip he could find, and pinned my hair up with it. I made sure I got my hair cut that night. He taught us an awful lot. Like the difference between 'can' and 'may', mainly learnt from us asking, 'Can I go to the toilet?' 'Of course you can,' he'd tell us, before roaring at us for leaving our seats. We quickly learnt the lesson and, devils that we were, gloried in others being caught out. He was so strict, that other teachers sent troublesome children to spend the day in our class, so there were many victims. 'Where the bloody hell do you think you're going, boy?' would echo down the corridor, and some poor child would probably no longer need the toilet anyway. 

He'd no doubt be sacked today - he swore at us, smoked a pipe in class, and told us we were all idiots, but I can honestly say I learnt more from him than any other teacher since. I see an awful lot of children at school today who have no respect for adults, and their parents let them get away with murder. They're cheeky, answer back and think they can do what ever they want in the classroom. Unfortunately, our board rubbers are flimsy little plastic things, that would not give a satisfying crack to the head, even if we were allowed to throw them. Politically incorrect and written with tongue firmly in cheek, but I'd love to send some of these children back in time. Got it easy, they have...

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