The MySchool site issue was inevitably under discussion at a meeting yesterday. The conversation also veered inevitably around to the question of which schools those present had attended.
Most people had attended two or three schools. They had typically attended an "infants" or "junior primary" school and then the "primary" school. Almost always these would be on the same grounds. They then went on to a secondary school. A couple of people had attended fee paying schools and stayed at the same school all through their schooling.
Then there was someone whose Dad was in the army. They shifted around a bit. She had attended five different schools but she had remained at the same secondary school right through.
Then there was me. I went to eight different schools. My father was the principal of most of them. My mother taught in most of them. The rule was you went where the Education Department decided to send you. My father was used as a 'trouble shooter' for schools in need of help in rural areas.
It might not have been too bad at primary level but five different secondary schools did nothing for my education. I changed subjects almost as often as I changed shoes. There was no continuity apart from English and mathematics and a science being compulsory. The curriculum changed in English, some topics had already been taught in maths and I missed others completely. Science was not much better. Geography suffered the same problem. History switched from modern to ancient and back again but always with different topics being covered from the ones I needed for the final examinations. I wanted to do a language and no languages were taught in rural areas.
My father was naturally aware of this and powerless to do much about it. I had to catch up where I could - and there have always been gaps in my knowledge.
There have been gaps in friendship too. There was no internet then, no Facebook or MySpace or any other networking site. There was no e-mail. A computer - slower than a modern lap-top - was being installed at the university as I was leaving school. We now have three universities and the students have their own laptops. They maintain their friendships through the 'net, through text messages and a social life that my generation would have found - different.
I never stayed long enough to cement high school friendships - and anyway my father was the school principal. You don't make friends with the 'head's kids'. My brother found the same thing. My two sisters escaped the problem because my father had returned to city appointments by the time they faced that problem.
So, at the meeting, people asked, "Where did you go next?" I tried to explain about the schools and why it had happened but I could see they thought it was all a little odd.
It was the wrong answer of course. Where did I go next? I think I chose a path before the many secondary schools. It was the path that said, "Books and reading. Educate yourself."
I dredged up an obscure fact yesterday as well. It was something that had come from my reading. "How on earth did you know that?" I was asked.
"I think it was something I read when I was doing economic history," I replied. I vaguely remember "economic history". I came across the text-book in a pile of books left behind by a teacher going overseas. It was not taught at the school I was then attending but it was an examinable subject. I read the text book, committed the crib summary at the back to memory and read some more historical novels. (There was a Country Lending Service from the city back then and I took full advantage of it.) My father put my name down to do the examination in Economic History as well because I said I wanted to try.
"You probably won't pass but give it a go if you want to,"he told me. (I passed with a B grade.) It was that path which said, "Books and reading. Educate yourself."
I wonder how the children at school now will answer when someone asks them, "So, where did you go next?" Will they say they educated themselves?