Checking through my school reports.

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.

28 thoughts on “Checking through my school reports.

  1. I understand your viewpoint completely, having enjoyed a similar attitude to schoolwork. I look at it this way: do you want your life to be one long slog where you chalk up a long list of academic achievements and promotions and someone recites them all at your funeral or do you regard good health and happiness, as many different life experiences you are able to cram in as the most important aspects of the time you have on earth? I go for the latter. I guarantee I won’t die with regrets. I enjoyed my life.

    1. Exactly Bede that sums it up nicely. I’ve had a pretty good life too and crammed most of what I wanted to do. Pretty incredible isn’t it? We had some times didn’t we?

  2. I guess we’ve all been in that spot Opher. School years are for the rebellious 🙂 Flouting convention and social norms goes hand in hand with growi ng up. Some do it with more flair and style than others 🙂

    1. Teenage years are difficult times. Hormones and brain rewiring. It’s a wonder we get through it. I would swap mine for anything though. I had a great time.

  3. Amazing that,having spent so much time avoiding school in your younger years, you then spent all your adult life there! The research also shows that males mature later than females – and for some it never happens……X

      1. I think that the lesson that life taught me is that you can’t have everything; you can’t be absolute; everything is a compromise and you have to keep an eye on the future – there are no short cuts.
        When you realise that then you realise that life is a balance. It’s about getting the balance right between fun, work, health and creativity. If the balance is wrong then things go wrong. If you want something then you have to work for it.

      2. Oh yeah absolutely balance is so necessary and you can’t overdo anything in life because that’s what messes it up. And of course sometimes you have to make sacrifices for the future.

  4. Thanks for sharing your story of school, Opher. Your’s is actually common. If a teacher can find one thing, any thing, that a child likes or excels at, it makes all the difference in the world. In our day, schooling was regimented. Today not so much, but teachers are overwhelmed with paperwork and huge classes. So, noticing individual children is difficult at best. You would have loved art school. Sorry to ramble!

    1. Thanks for that Jennie. I know – I was a typical boy – very scruffy, a bit wild and all over the place. I loved animals. They were my life. I kept below the radar and did just enough to avoid attention. I don’t think I would have got away with it now though. A little bit of praise and attention would have made a big difference. It wasn’t like that back then. That’s why I went into teaching – to put that right.

      1. This is the best epilogue! Do you know there are outdoor schools here in New England? Elementary school. Rain or shine, in the woods. Public schools have way too much ‘sit down’ time. Not good for boys. Finland has this all figured out. As such, they are #1 in education in the world. And yes, a little attention and teacher praise goes a long way. Your reasons for going into teaching are the best.

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