Given that I've just blogged about the Dark Ages when I was a teenager, I thought I'd take you even further back into my past with this 'ere lovely photo:
This is actually a newspaper cutting sent by an old friend Miriam. We were at primary/grade school together and she moved when we were about 9. She now lives in Canada (about an hour's flight from me). We found each other on Friends Reunited and communicate regularly now on Facebook. The wonders of modern technology. Anyway, she sent me this photo last week and I love it.
I think we are about 8. That/s me in the very front row, extreme left. Amazingly my fringe/bangs are straight, rather than the usual frenzied attack with the scissors that my mother used to inflict. The occasion was a visit by the Mayor (bloke with chain around neck) but I have no idea why he was there.
But friends, look at the actual classroom. If you go to Beamish Musem (which I highly recommend if you are ever in County Durham) you will first of all find my mother volunteering in the Co-op there, and secondly you'll see a Victorian classroom which is virtually the same as the one in this photo. My kids don't believe me when I tell them about the first school I went to, but this is proof. It was absolutely ancient when I started in the late 60's and was pulled down shortly thereafter.
See the wooden desks complete with inkwell hole thing, and the bench seats that went up together so that when your friend got up for any reason, you were pretty much obliged to get up too. The ceilings were about thirty feet high (making for a very cold building), the playground was a concrete yard with high brick wall around it, and there was a large pile of coke in one corner at all times. Surely a lawsuit waiting to happen these days. We had the large blackboards that filled most of the walls, parquet floors that were so uneven you could turn your ankle if you didn't pay attention, and cloakrooms the smell of which even today, evokes a million and one memories and emotions in me. Not all good.
Having just been to my older kids' curriculum evenings, I am astounded at just how great their school exprience is and how easy they have it. None of that worry about losing two years of hand-written A level work because you fell down a manhole!
I will enlighten you with modern school technology in an upcoming blog.