Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A School Memory (Part 1)

I have lots of random memories about school. This one I remember from my 5th year (the year I had my starring role in, er Trig Trog).

Mr Pugh was our teacher and he was a young-ish and trendy sort who towered over us little ones with his huge frame (no doubt he was no bigger than I am now in my late 30s but when you're 7 or 8, adults always seem ginormous).

There were two incidents during the course of that year that really stick out in my memory and I've always wondered if they helped shaped me as a person in some way. This is the first one:

I remember one morning when Mr Pugh was telling the whole class off for behaving so badly in the playground (for some reason or another). He was threatening to ban us from playtime altogether if we continued on our path of social terrorism. That was when I uttered what was the most regrettable few words I'd ever said up until that point. It was something like "I don't like playtime anyway". It was a sort of defiant 'I don't care' comment that I was supposed to be saying inwardly but unfortunately my mouth got involved and decided to make the volume nice and loud for all to hear.

He instantly pounced on my ill-chosen words and decided to make me an example to everyone there and then.

"Right then. In that case you can stay in every break time until the end of the year."

And with that, my fate was sealed.

I was banned from spending break time with the rest of my classmates. I was devastated.

Weirdly, I was never a defiant child. I was usually pretty well-behaved. I got on with my work and obeyed orderes. The idea of going against authority is not something I'm naturally inclined to do. I have no idea where that particular bout of anti-establishment behaviour came from.

From what I can remember, the rest of the term was spent – as my punishment dictated – sad and alone in the classroom. I remember once or twice having a companion. You know the kid, the one who isn't 'allowed outside' because of some (made up) medical condition.

I have a theory that my self-inflicted period of solitary confinement had a small impact on my social skills later on in life. I'm not the most naturally confidant person around others, and am easily intimidated by those who appear sure of themselves. I'm not socially awkward per se, but definitely take time to feel comfortable around people.

Could it be that I happened to lose out on the most crucial time of social development? Surely I was supposed to be out playing and learning how to interact with others in an informal setting. Instead, most of my interactions were within a formal, classroom context (or with the weird kid who sometimes made an appearance). Is it possible that had I not been stuck indoors for an entire term then I would have grown up to be a well-balanced party animal?

Well, no not really because I did get to go out at lunchtime. I'm sure I got plenty of social developmental interaction credit power-ups that way.

But I did get slightly less than everyone else so it makes you think, doesn't it?

No? Oh well, must be me then.

This was the 80s, when things were so much more laid back and teachers didn't have seventy-five policies and procedures to deal with handling crayons. Mr Pugh had made his point to the rest of the class. Chances are, if I'd snuck out at playtime with everyone else after a few days, he wouldn't have noticed or even cared. If only I'd done that....

Next time (when I get round to writing it): How I stupendously failed at maths.

So – do you have any random memories from school where you look back and think 'what was I doing?'

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