In 1974 I left Kesteven College of Education. Enthusiastic and, fortuitously naive I then served a seventeen year sentence as an English teacher at Noel Baker Comprehensive School. Had I committed murder and served a life sentence in Leicester Prison I would, after release for good behaviour have served at most a mere thirteen years. By coincidence a pupil I taught at the school did in fact serve time for murder, in Leicester I believe, and was in fact released after a sentence considerably shorter than mine. I bet there's not that much difference in the pensions either.
I am reminded of all this when I come across, in my garage a box of home made lessons in a small wooden box. They consist of well over a hundred six inch square clear plastic envelopes, each one containing a subject, questions, project suggestions, and newspaper and magazine cutouts. By today's standards amateurish in the extreme, I study each and everyone, marvelling at my dedication in producing such works of art. Hours and hours spent, each one lovingly crafted, often until the early hours. Is it any wonder both my children were conceived whilst I was a carefree student at Kesteven College; the chance of an additional brother or sister never remotely probable or possible.
The subject matter of the cards gives food for thought. 'When under Sixteens get Smokers Cough.' 'No fun Amongst the Fat of the Land.' 'Boy Who quit School to join the Legion.' 'Slow readers Degree of Success.' Obesity, Smoking, School phobics, Dyslexia, still problems today; seemingly nothing changes. Perhaps I was ahead of my time, a visionary even! In which case why did I never make headmaster! I was more likely to be found driving the minibus than driving the nation.
Home made cards, part suited to an era long since gone. One card entitled 'Me Big Chief of Paddington Green' deals with the I-Spy books of Arnold Cawthrow so beloved by children of the fifties and sixties. What would modern schoolchildren brought up on a diet of video nasties and MP3 players make of it all.
I did try to keep up with the times, honest! One card was entitled, 'A New Kind of Time on Your Hands.' Question, 'Explain the difference between LED and LCD.' Question 'What are the advantages and disadvantages of digital watches.' All this round about the mid seventies! I used to be somewhat typecast as being good with 'the bottom end'. Called remedials in those days, definitely a non PC word now. A new kind of watch was definitely 'in' at the time. Its main function seemed to be to make a tremendous noise, some sort of alarm periodically in lessons.
Presumably they told the time, of lesser interest to 'Remedial Ronnie.' Distracting, disconcerting, irritating, take your pick but easily dealt with nevertheless. I took one bright red fire bucket full of water into the classroom and nonchalantly informed the class the first watch to 'go off' so to speak was going in the bucket. End of problem proving their prized possession did have an on/off switch after all!
It all seems a long time a go. Some of those pupils are now fifty years of age, perish the thought. Some have done well, others less so, though the proportion that have seen the inside of a prison are thankfully in the minority. All remembered, though not necessarily with equal affection. But remembered nevertheless; happy days.