I read the responses to my first primary school article from last Thursday.
I didn’t anticipate the number of comments and that so many people had experiences similar to me. I did find it overwhelming that so many suffered. At the same time, I’m glad there were others who found primary school a good place.
On the other side of the coin, there were funny things that happened in amongst the terrors that were called a good primary education.
The school I attended was opposite the town’s public primary school. A narrow gully separated us and so they could see us and we them.
One lunch time a boy in my class stood on the bank opposite the public school and entertained himself and us by chucking brown eyes at the public school kids. Needless to say, the wrath of the nuns descended upon him even though he was from a very upstanding Catholic family.
In fifth class, we had Mother DePaul as our teacher. She was a very old woman, and she’d hobble over to the classroom of a morning, perch herself at the front of the room, cane in one hand and deliver her version of justice throughout the day. She’d collect our books and if she wrote “Come to me” on your work you knew you were in for it. As she wrote that on so many kid’s books I tended to ignore her. Such was her desire to whack as many kids each day as she could physically manage some boys in the class began having bets with each other as to who could get the most in any one week. I remember one boy boasted of 40+.
Another time in third class a boy who irritated our teacher was put in the cupboard. The room had a store room in the back, and the teacher made him stay in there the day. The only thing was she forgot he was in there. So, at recess and lunchtime, he’d come out and hang out the classroom window chatting to all of us in the playground. Once the bell was rung, he’d go back in and shut the door. So, at the end of the day knowing she’d forgotten about him, he stayed in the room after the rest of us went home.
The teacher went over to the convent probably for her afternoon tea and to debrief and after about twenty minutes remembered the boy in the cupboard. She rushed back to the classroom to find him still sitting there. She was so apologetic; I’m sure fearing the anger of his parents that she ushered him out of the school and watched him as he walked his way home. It was the only time he ever saw her apologetic about anything. But he still has a grin about it to this day.