I was talking to a friend in work yesterday, and he used the cliche that schooldays are the best of our lives and we don’t appreciate them at the time. That got me thinking. Are they? And if so why?
Well, the plus side, I never had to worry about getting up and going to work, to pay bills, to buy food, etc etc etc. My parents had that to deal with. I had classes to go to, some I liked some I didn’t. Some teachers I liked, some I didn’t.
I never had to think “What will I wear today”, as the school I went to had a uniform, so it was shirt, tie and blazer with a school badge for me. My parents insisted that I keep it on when I got home as (a) it looked smart, and (b) it saved on the amount of clothes that had to be washed.
So far, so……ok I suppose.
What about the downside? Well, when I was at school, corporal punishment was still legal, and in Scotland, that was the tawse, or as it was more commonly referred to, the belt. A strip of leather, cut into two, or sometimes three tails, at the business end, and applied to the hands with some force, usually at the front of the class, in full view. This was to act as a deterrent to the rest of the class, and the shame of being punished in public so to speak, should deter the troublemaker.
That was definitely a downside.
I was on the receiving end 4 times. The last was two strokes when I was 17.
A friend who had left school and was studying at collage pointed out, that if he’d done what I had (not done homework/coursework after being told it was a last chance), he would simply have had to re-sit it. He thought it was odd that at 16, instead of leaving school and going to collage, I had stayed on to study, meaning that I was basically volunteering to wear a uniform, and allowing teachers to decide if I was to be physically punished. Whereas he was still studying but had removed himself from that situation.
At the age of my last encounter with the belt, I was 17. For over a year, I could have been out earning money in a job, been married, joined the army. He, having gone to collage, was looked on by society as an adult, whereas I on the other hand, by staying on at school and wearing a uniform, was still looked at as a child.
Was I happy though? On the whole, yes. I was happy, and a couple of painful encounters with the tawse didn’t change that. I wasn’t ready to go to collage or get a job, as I didn’t know what I wanted to do yet.
Am I happier now? I’d say yes. While I have more things to concern me (work, money, bills etc), I have a job that I quite like, and the money to do things that I didn’t when I was younger.
So Best day’s of our lives? In some ways, but not all
(Last school photo taken just before I turned 18. Middle of back row)