Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Examination results for the

Year 12 students come out today. They can access them by computer and i-phone or wait for the postman to deliver them in an envelope. There are no longer "public examinations" at the end of year 10 (Intermediate) and Year 11 (Leaving) and even parts of Year 12 are internally assessed.
I remember waiting for my "Intermediate" results. They did not come out until two days after Christmas. Christmas was not to be enjoyed that year but to be endured. My mother saw to that. I think she believed she was being perfectly fair and reasonable.
On Christmas morning I was told what my present would be - if I passed. Right around me everyone else unwrapped parcels. Presents to me from my grandparents, aunts and uncles, were put to one side. I would be given them when the results came out.
I know my father would have remonstrated with my mother in private. He never argued with her in front of us. She would have been adamant. No presents unless I passed. Failure would be a public humiliation for her as well as me.
My mother kept reminding me the results would be coming and how she would feel if I did not meet her expectations. My father did not mention them.
Of course my father had to worry about everyone's examination results - years 10, 11 and those few year 12 students who had been working largely alone in the big country school my father was responsible for looking after. The day the results came out he would be fielding phone calls and visits from parents who would demand to know why their child had not done better, whether their child should return to school, repeat, do different subjects, change streams etc etc. The results were a reflection on his staff as well as his students.
No, my mother told me that she was the one who had to "worry" about our results. My brother, younger than me, had already been castigated for not getting full marks in his maths exam. He ignored her. He had still managed to get more marks than anyone else.
By the night before the results came out I was quite literally sick with worry.
They were printed in the newspaper in those days. Your surname and initials, your number and your results were there for the entire world to see. It was a cruel system.
Students would head off to the printing door of the state newspaper and wait for the first edition to come off the presses. The newspaper was sympathetic. They would produce the results as rapidly as they could - inevitably there were errors on occasions but they did their best
Even if we had been staying with my grandparents in the city there was no way I would ever have been allowed to join the throng at the printing door. As it was I had to wait for the paper to arrive. I had to wait until my father opened the paper and read the results.
Fortunately my father was as anxious as I was. The van that delivered the newspapers to places as far as the coast was as early as it could be. It was just after five in the morning when the paper landed with that ominous thud in the front yard.  My father was up as soon as he heard it. I stood there chewing my knuckles as he went out the door.
        "Cat, get my glasses!" Oh yes, he was every bit as anxious as I was. 
I did far better than I had expected I would do. I ate breakfast without being sick. My mother said I "must have recovered from that stomach bug".
My father spent the day in his headmaster's office talking to parents.
I opened my Christmas presents from my relatives. I wrote them "thankyou" notes the same day and posted them with all the other thankyou notes from my siblings. Local people congratulated me on my results. I congratulated some of my classmates who were gathered outside the general store. They were admiring a new racing bike one of them had been given as a Christmas present. He had barely passed but his parents seemed pleased he had passed at all.
I never did get a Christmas present. I had known I would not. It was "saved" for my birthday a few days later. My presents were always "for Christmas and birthday".

1 comment:

Miriam said...

How awful to put a child under so much pressure. I wonder what your parents would have done with the presents if you hadn't done "well enough."

No one ever expected me to do particularly well in exams. I was just a girl, after all.