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School Ceilings .. July 26, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts.
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Now that all the School kids are on holidays, and anyone that I know that is a teacher looks like they have the weight lifted from their world for 6 (or even 8 in some cases!) weeks of their year, I was/am in a reflective mood of those heady days of Summer when days seemed to be never ending and all your mates were just five minutes away .. 

The heatwave is madness at the moment – the local press are pointing back at the Summer of 1976 for comparison .. that year is probably the earliest I have memory of, Martin Buchan and Gordon McQueen Pannini stickers on the front of my pushbike, cycling races around the block and lighting fires on the ‘rec’ with a box of 2p matches from the corner shop, with the shop keeper never seeming to worry what six year old kids were going to do with matches .. and to think I’m scared to let my 7 year old cycle out of the driveway!

I was driving past my old high school the other day. A guy I went to school with is a successful builder now and lives opposite the school & he was just coming out of his drive in an oversized 4×4 mobile. He certainly wasn’t the ‘boy most likely to’ at school, and who knows, he may not consider his life a success, but it got me thinking about your thought process when you are at school age .. there really shouldn’t be a care in the world as you haven’t that much to care about.

Life is so easy if only you realised it ..assuming you have a loving relationship with your parents and siblings, and are not so mentally deficient to get picked on by the oh so caring individuals in the playground, it is like living in a complete bubble of safety and naive security from the real world. 

I remember a mental ceiling of 2 levels at that age .. the 1st was the leap from Primary to High School .. mixing with the big kids who had body odour and poor attempts at facial hair. It was a giant leap in attitude, but in retrospect was falling off a log. I’m sure there was more parental anguish than my own.

I had come from a school on the other side of town, so hadn’t the familiarity of old class mates, but once I had disregarded the blazer my Mum insisted I wore on Day 1 (I did literally wear it on Day 1 and Day 1 only), life was a breeze. It was a case of don’t believe the hype .. it was disappointing to learn that 1st years didnt get beaten up on the hour every hour.

The 2nd ceilng was from school to work. Now that really was the great unknown. Where as the Primary to High School leap allowed you to have the visibility of kids biking past your house and other kids older brothers who sneered out you when you called for them, work was a different matter.

At 12 or 13 I couldn’t even comprehend the world of work (some days I still feel like that now). I remember aged 14 or so spending some days helping my girlfriends father fit carpets and that was as close I could get to perception of work – swearing at Customers, looking at girls from the van window & smoking a lot of cigarettes (not me btw!) .. it didn’t seem like a world that you needed to study too much to achieve, but it was very good fun. My point being that at that age, I didn’t have the information or context to visualise a world of work, be it open plan offices or building sites – the whole thing had no linkage to Algebra and the Capital Cities of South America.

The big bad world is more to do with rival schools and the supposed mass brawls that are going to occur with a gang from down the road .. if my memory serves, none of these ever came to fruition at my school. I can think of a number of times when they were supposed to have done, usually due to a romantic interchange that shouldn’t have happened, but there was never anything dramatic in the outcome.

Which leaves me with the fact that school days are great – I loved school, I learnt of lot of interesting facts that I will never use, read books that would never want to read again, but it was great stuff to learn .. however there are so many life skills and basic adult life contexts that would have been far more use to me & may have even made crossroads in life appear different.

Careers advice was a sham – “answer this questionnaire” .. output result .. “right, you need to be a legal clerk” .. there was no discussion about what it meant in 30 years time when you are racked with creative guilt about following a drab banking profession, or struggling to pay the mortgage cos’ you want to be an ‘artist’ .. it was a black/white response of ‘do this’ .. what about the rest of life too .. what about questioning ones desire to travel, to have kids, to do some voluntary work .. ?? Why didnt schools get people in who had picked certain career paths, paid them a few quid to talk about the gritted truth about bricklaying in winter time or commuting in London rush hour?

If I had the drive I would set up a company to do just that, charge all local authorities a shed load of cash for my co-ordination skills .. if I could be arsed .. obviously should have tried harder at school to build my self motivation. 

I am guessing that work experience and the availability of the Internet means kids are more readily armed with a greater worldly awareness, it must be easier to read about the mistakes others have made. Regardless I think it is something that I will make sure my kids are focused on .. Movie Producer or International best Selling Author and nothing less now kids .. no pressure ..

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