Yesterday we were sorting out some of the old paperwork and came across my old school reports. It was fascinating to read those words from fifty plus years ago. I had pictures of some of those teachers as middle aged men and women. It was salutary to think that they were all most probably dead now, even the younger ones. But their words came down to me through the years.
In my first year in secondary school I ended up thirteenth in class. My RE report was just Fair. In other subjects it was noted that I had a fair effort score, that I had not given my best, that I was erratic and tended to be a dreamer at times. Only in Science, Maths and History did I do well.
By the time I reached the Sixth Form it was noted that I doing great in Zoology but not much else. Seemingly I wasn’t taking my work seriously. I was cutting a lot of lessons and my conduct was generally good but deemed immature. My Punctuality was very poor. The general comment from my Form Tutor was that I chose what I liked and disregarded what I didn’t. Mr Morrell noted that unfortunately life doesn’t work like that and we have to work at what we don’t enjoy.
That got me thinking back. It was a fair assessment. Indeed, I hadn’t realised that Mr Morrell was so perceptive. I hated the guy with a vengeance. He was a prat.
In my younger years I was scruffy, untidy and my work was the same; it was scrawled out as quickly as I could do it and was very messy. I wanted to get it out of the way. I never did any homework. All I wanted to do was get off back to my many pet animals, out into the fields, woods and streams to hunt wild creatures and off with my friends making dens, climbing trees or playing games in the street. School was largely a nuisance.
In my later teens I had discovered Jack Kerouac, was obsessed with Rock Music and its lyrics, was concerned about my hair and image and was busy chatting up the girls and sorting out who it was that I was taking out this week. School got in the way. I was always being shouted at and sent home for rebellious dress code violations. My hair was too long, my sideburns too long, I grew beards, my trousers were too low cut and too tight. My socks too bright and then my trousers were too wide. The Deputy Head took a personal interest in berating me. I spent nearly as much time at home as I did at school. I didn’t care. I was too full of hormones.
The fact that I achieved a reasonable set of exam results was almost a miracle. I hardly did any work and missed such a lot of lessons. I had other priorities.
Now I look back and realise that a little more effort might well have had big effects on my life but I was living in the present. That was all that mattered. I have learnt that lesson that Mr Morrell was so frustrated about. I now know that there are no short-cuts and you have to work at the things you don’t enjoy if you want to achieve. You cannot just do the things you want to do.
It’s a bit late, I know, but it is an important lesson.
Who would have believed it – that that old fool Mr Morrell might have known something after all.