When I was at school everybody had an hour and a half of compulsory games 6 days a week plus training on top of that if you were in a team for something. That is a lot by modern school standards but isn’t enough if you are competing at the top level, so it is realistic to exempt athletes who will in any case have fairly strict academic targets too. I was at school with quite a few girls who went on to be international and olympic sportswomen mainly in lacrosse and rowing, often while reading for a degree, but that was a long time ago.
Hated every moment of my ‘skoolin’. As Mark Twain once said ‘I never let my schooling interfere with my education’. Best advice ever!
You always nudge a memory out of me Peter. Most of my so-called teachers were ‘rockapes’ and a could of seriously deranged Headmasters of the ‘flogging’ variety - one of whom was only stopped from caning me on al already stitched up hand, by a momentary attack of guilt by the accusing teacher! I didn’t escape through, as all that happened was TWELVE strokes of the cane on my undamaged hand, instead of six on each. Such were the times when with a bruised and bloody hand I finally got home, the sympathy was ‘well I suppose you deserved it’ Thanks a bunch Mum.
Oddly the other day I read that one of my old teachers had died some years before, and the usual fulsome crap had been written about him. He was a bullying bruit who loved coming up behind one and hitting you on the head and making you fall over. A real gutless bullying bastard. We used to call him ‘Cavey’ as in Caveman, so I was very surprised to find this was indeed his First name - how very apt?
Generally speaking I had good teachers, or at least humane ones, but my first day at grammar school the little Geordie who loved to pronounce laughter as in manslaughter, as a threat, and threw a wooden backed board duster the length of the room aimed at the head of a chattering pupil. It really would have been manslafter if his aim had been better.
And the headmaster who caned me on the bum for taking a ride on the school sledge after being told not to (apparently, I didn’t remember, or hear, that). Fortunately, being very cold and all togged up for sledging, I barely felt it.
Did think it prudent to give a little yelp of pain though.
Oh dear such memories of Grammar School education in the 1950/60’s! First 4 years were of great interest apart from Latin, French, Geography. English, Maths, Physics and Chemistry, Year five still the same but with a main interest was Girls! Managed to scrape into 6th Form to do Maths, Physics, Chemistry and surprisingly Art but also Technical Drawing and Metalwork as vocational studies plus ex-curriculum Girls. Eventually went on to become an Architect. Since post graduation, still studying… guess! Biggest regret not liking French at school (due to not seeing the need as who travelled or needed French in the late 1950’s. Now have great admiration for my old French teacher’s (ex Resistance as I found out later) patience and have learnt it pretty well in French bars, cafes, restaurants, “merchands de construction” etc plus a smattering of German, Italian and Greek from business and holiday travelling. How I now regret that at School during the Best Days of My Life I didn’t pay more attention to my French teacher and the others who had the pretty thankless tasks of spending several hours a day in front of testosterone fuelled teenagers. Merci beaucoup!
I went to a pretty awful Comprehensive (no grammars in Harrow and I turned down the chance of a scholarship) and the schooling was so bad that it’s since been knocked down. At the time I would have loved the idea of home schooling. Now, though, I’m so glad I went there. I was an incredibly insecure and shy child and made some excellent friends who gave me a confidence that I’d never have got stuck at home.
I hated that I wasn’t allowed to do all of the options subjects I wanted to but I can’t imagine my Mother allowing me to do them either. In fact, if it wasn’t for what the school made me study to start with, I wouldn’t have known what I really enjoyed doing. Home schooling is reliant on the teaching ability of the parents (unless they pay for tutors) and teaching is a skill. Perhaps a vocational school or college is the best route.
Went to a local C ofE grammar school rather than a Catholic one because my mother didn’t belive in single sex education (don’t know why she thought that, although looking at present and recent UK PMs, Cabinets and Conservative MPs, I can see why she though it might be problematic in later life). At the time I merely appreciated being allowed to skip morning Assembly and RE periods (thank you, Pope John XXXIII)
Nevertheless GS and self were not well-matched - I was embarrassingly arrogant and self-confident about my ability to succeed without listening to teachers - after all, what did they know?!! (nevertheless, I read voraciously on every subject that interested me).
Outcome: passed three ‘A’ levels, but not ‘A’ level art (supposedly my stongest subject and the only exam I’ve ever failed). Nevertheless, had already been accepted for three art colleges. Later got an MA (Distinction) in Fine Art, did a doctorate at the Royal College of Art and eventually became a professor in charge of a university art school. By retirement I’d clocked up forty-one years either studying or teaching art and art history internationally at post-secondary school levels.
Nevertheless, I can’t blame the school, I wasn’t a typical student and only finally stopped rebelling against authority and the system, when I was allowed to follow my nose and later eventuallly became the authority who had the power to change, well - let’s modestly say ‘revise’ - the local system of which I was now in charge.
I spent my entire career in HE and still hate schools, but now greatly respect secondary teachers who were doing an impossible job even before COVID. I think the best way to educate young people is to direct them to anything they’re interested in (other than boys/girls) and help them find the means or resources to explore, deepen and develop these interests. Unfortunately; this way of thinking is totally at odds with national syllabi, A levels Bacs etc.
However, alongside this I think that university acceptance offers should not be subject to A level predictions/results, but based on interviews and writing an essay in an applicant’s own time on a subject of their choice. Put it succinctly; I believe the system should support and encourage students’ enthusiasms.
I hope Geof Cox will post a reply because I’d be interested to read his thoughts on our current university acceptance models.
Lastly, from where I am today, it seems a crap time to be young. But, hopefully, someone will be able to post a sound set of contradictions to this…