The Skool of Life

25 May 2023

In the early 70's Clive Sinclair produced the pocket calculator. I was deeply envious on hearing that schools allow pupils to use them. Memories of the mortifying day when Miss Muffet (real name) hauled me in front of the class to repeat the maths homework my brother did for me. "You are without doubt the most stupid nincompoop it has ever been my misfortune to teach". Bit harsh really. Now, who needs to bother when we have so many aids? 

God knows I have many regrets, things I would do differently if I could go back. However, I have never once thought "If only I had tried harder at maths.”

I was perplexed to hear that the UK government will soon insist that people continue doing maths until age 18. Quite how this will fit with the current school-leaving age of 16 I don't know.

I was greatly relieved when aged 15 I was able to drop maths for at O-level as long as I did Biology.

This got a few friends pondering about things we wish we had been taught. I went to a direct grant girl's grammar, that must have modelled itself on a much earlier age.

I loathed sport but was good at gymnastics. That counted for nothing, it was not about teams.

We were taught 3 dances. The waltz, the cha-cha, and I kid you not, the polka. Outside in the real world normal folk were jiving, twisting, while we did the polka, singing "You should see me dance the polka, you should see me cover the ground".

The school had record levels for Oxbridge entrance. The other alternative  groomed us to be housewives.  

In domestic science we made dishes that I never made again. To be fair I could still if forced make a roux for a sauce, and do puff pastry, but have never felt the need. Nor have I ever made a Scotch egg or baked apple in pastry.

Sex education was literally birds and bees. I already knew the basics from an early age, but maybe being told that you can get pregnant at any time in the cycle would have prevented me being an art school drop-out aged 17!

One thing everyone agreed upon was that money, including  personal finance should be taught. Self-defence, yoga, anger management were mentioned. How I would have benefitted from basic DIY, and first aid that could save a life. For me, how to spot a narcissist would have come in pretty handy too.

I know one can go on courses, watch You Tube whatever, but once that youthful plasticity in the brain has gone, learning new things gets harder (or is that just me?)

If you could go back to school, what changes to the teaching would have made a difference in your life?


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