Friday, 12 January 2018

Werdz


Bookwormery has been a lifelong habit for all but the first two and a half years of my life.  I was still toddling when I first learnt to read and started sharing my stories with the next door neighbour's dog. Precocious, moi?

I remember when my mum took me on my first visit to my infant school.  It was a lovely place , a source of great memories with toys that would set a health and safety inspector's pulse racing in modern times.  Like the sets of wooden blocks  backed with real nails that you hammered into a cork tile or the hand of another kiddie when they were being particularly annoying.   There were also climbing frames constructed over concrete.   It's a wonder that we didn't all come away with head injuries.

'We teach ITA here.' Mrs Cook, the headmistress told my mum.  It was a phonetically based teaching tool with no upper case and weird and wonderful letters that augmented the usual alphabet.  While it was popular for a while in the '60s and '70s it lost favour as loads of people who learnt it struggled to spell properly when they made the switch back to standard English.   Mum told Miss Cook that I could already read.  'Of course she can't dear.' was the answer.  In those days head teachers were held in high regards and had sufficient authority to get away with being patronising.

In order that I could identify where I was supposed to hang my pink coat the peg  had a picture of an umbrella above it.  Of course it was assumed that if the word 'Julie' had been there instead it would have make no sense to me.  I vividly recall the first time that I was called up to the front of the class for my first 1:1 reading session with my teacher.  This book 'paul' , written in the Initial Teaching Alphabet,  was put in front of me.  In spite of some unfamiliar curly characters  I read it from end to end on the first attempt much to the lovely Miss Nightingale's astonishment.  Someone then had a rethink and decided that I could revert to using the proper alphabet.

And so it was that  I was allowed to do my own thing for the first two years of schooling whilst the others in my class caught up.  I became chief errand runner and immersed myself in a sea of Fuzzy Felt and old fashioned standard English books from the library meant for the older kids.   I'm in two minds as to whether leaving a four year old to educate themselves is a good idea.  It made conforming to formal teaching difficult and to this day I find sitting still in a classroom a bit of an ordeal.  But then again maybe a bit of self sufficiency served me well.  I've only just got to appreciate that in later life.

12 comments:

  1. I could tell the time when I went to school which was quite advanced.I went to a very small Primary school of only 70 pupils.I was a whizz at maths and fortunately theyletme push ahead of everyone else.I ended up getting A level Maths at Grammar school.

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    1. I like maths too and ended up studying it beyond A-level. I've forgotten most of it now. Isn't it a pity that there's no everyday use for calculus and the like! xx

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  2. My goodness-you gave me nightmares, Julie. I taught ita in the late seventies and it was a P2/3 class. I wrote in orange chalk in ita and green chalk in to ( traditional orthography) for those who were weaned. It was a blinking brain scrambling farce. I still weep when I think of the damage I may have caused to children’s ability to learn. I then went on to complete my degree in English Language and hope I have enthused young people ever since about the joys of reading and of writing for pleasure. I am also a great promoter of Scots language which children seem to enjoy. Catriona

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    1. How interesting. Now you mention it I vaguely remember the teacher having to write in two 'different languages'.xx

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  3. My early years were without preschool or really anything outside of weekly Sunday school, but I tried to use older siblings school materials. I think though I must have needed a lot of catching up once I got to Kindergarten. As a career early childhood educator, I'm dismayed that we still haven't fully cracked the nut on figuring out how to catch some students up without holding back others that have had quality early experiences either through their parents great involvement or excellent other caregivers. I'm glad though it is pretty much accepted wisdom that learning does begin at birth, and those early experiences have profound impact on school readiness and graduation rates. The UK and Europe are years ahead of the US in making those ealry year experiences happen for all children.

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    1. I'm surprised that we're ahead in early years learning. With regard to my own experience I don't think the '70s education system helped me reached my full potential. They didn't really know what to do with me. No worries because I've got to a place in my fifties where I really am pretty content. xx

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  4. I started school in the early 1960's & we read Janet & John books.We also had a piece of wood with shoelaces on to practice.I can't remember learning to read there though.I began school at 4 just.My mum told me years later she stood peeping through the windows after leaving me there & she was crying she said x

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    1. I had Janet and John books from about the age of three. And a similar piece of wood hung in my classroom with one with a tie on as well. xx

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  5. My daughters could both read fluently before they started school.on the first day D1 came out in tears-they were only allowed picture books because they would not be able to read yet. At the end of D1s first week, the teacher called me in to tell me how difficult my girl had been, refusing to hang her coat on her peg. But I don't have a peg, mummy, she wept. Where is her peg? I asked. Over there with the others! I was told by the irritated teacher. I walked up and down the ROW, and told the woman that I couldn't see it. Here! She said triumphantly - pointing to a peg with the right Christian name, wrong surname. THAT is not my daughter's name. I said. Mummy, I told her that it didn't match my name tape! Said daughter. I was glad we were on the point of moving house, and D1 could change schools. She's retained her love of books, and now she's an Editor.

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    1. It doesn't seem right when either teachers or parents see school as the sole source of education for their children. It's a partnership. xx

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  6. On my first day at school, we were given tracing paper and our names on a piece of card and I was incensed because they had spelled my name incorrectly. I was a voracious reader as early as three years of age.

    My daughter was the same and her teachers tried to make her learn that alternative spelling; she soon showed them how well she could do it.

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