writing

School – do you love it or hate it?

My latest story, ‘Me and my big mouth, by Maddy Monday,’ is about a girl who’s been home-educated right up to the age of eleven. She doesn’t actually want to go to school but one day she gets in a strop and says she says she does, and to her surprise, her mum and dad call her bluff.

Maddy doesn’t have much idea about what to expect, her main sources of information about school being TV dramas and her mum’s ancient collection of boarding-school stories, with covers featuring hearty girls, hockey-sticks and woolly-looking trees.

As you can imagine, school seems odd and puzzling to Maddy at first, but when she gets used to it she thinks it’s great… until stuff happens that makes her go right off it.

Maddy has a love-hate relationship with school, very much like her author once did.

My primary school

My primary school

My secondary school was much bigger - it came as a bit of a shock, especially as no-one else from primary went there with me

My secondary school was much bigger – it came as a bit of a shock, especially as no-one else from my primary went there with me

Here are some of the things I hated about school:

  • uniform (I couldn’t wear anything blue for a decade after I left school)
  • uniform (I hated it soooo much, it really needs to go in twice)
  • homework (school’s school, home’s home, am I right?)
  • hockey (but I quite liked tennis, which was just as well, growing up in Wimbledon)
  • sarcastic teachers

Here are some of the things I loved:

  • friends
  • dinners (I know!)
  • nice teachers
  • the art room
  • all playground games, from shipwrecked to charades

One thing I’ve really enjoyed about writing Maddy Monday is that it’s given me an opportunity to look at school from every angle, as something by turns weird, gorgeous and horrible.

How is (or was) school for you? What do (or did) you love about it? What do (or did) you hate?

25 thoughts on “School – do you love it or hate it?

  1. Ill fitting school trousers!!
    and bullies and frenemies:(
    oh, and those people who are bullying you but refuse to admit then tease you for being a snitch….

    i do like English, because of the teacher art, and friends who are nice

    Dylan xx

    • Hi Dylan – I haven’t heard the term ‘frenemies’ – love it! But those people who bully you and refuse to admit it and tease you for being a snitch, in my book they’re ‘so-called friends’ – and I think they’re the worst because they mess with your emotions

  2. Uniform was ok. It kept home separate from school. My pet school hate, then and now, is HOMEWORK.

    Why is it NOT OK to take holidays in school time, but it is OK to give children homework to do on their holidays? It makes no sense, especially if you want to go away for the whole holiday ie the half term week!

    And breathe. Sorry Jen, didn’t mean to rant quite so loudly 😉

    It’s a great post. Jx

    • Oh my goodness yes, Julie – and the invention of coursework meant my poor kids were expected to do A LOT of homework in the holidays, which made me feel FURIOUS!! There – I ranted louder 😉

  3. I actually like our school uniform, because it’s comfortable. I really would love old fashioned pinafores and straw hats though… *sigh* I agree with you on the homework front, most of it is just work that the teachers couldn’t fit into the lesson. I don’t like mean teachers, and difficult lessons and over-hot ICT rooms. The things I love are our music lessons, history lessons and our art rooms (We have all of this GCSE artwork all around like a chaotic, colourful gallery and it’s really inspiring) Ooh! And the library! I love the library. And I like lunchtimes, when you can relax and run about mad or lounge on grass or curl up with a book and I like being with your friends and the nice family like feel you have with your form. Altogether, I think I like school more often than I hate it. But I will always, ALWAYS hate homework. Me and my big mouth by Maddy Monday sounds great 🙂

    • Hi Faolan – what a lovely enthusiastic comment! But no, no, no, you would not have liked wearing the straw hats we had to wear – they looked OK but felt rock-hard and rigid. You couldn’t squash them up and make them comfy like the felt ones we had to wear in winter

  4. Well…As Maddy, I have been homeschooled (or “home educated”, if you prefer) for my 15 years of life. And, overall, I’ve liked school more than I’ve hated it. HowEVER, in this fall I will be going to our community college, so I’ll get to experience most people’s idea of “school”, which should prove interesting.

  5. Hi, sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it. The sam with homework. But I really really hate school uniform. I am in year six, so I have just finished my SATs and am going to go to secondary school in September. Scary! Anyway yesterday my new baby brother was born! Yay!

  6. Like Churchill, I find school something best not remembered. I am where I am today in spite of – not because of – my school experiences.

    I still remember the day I walked out the high school gate at the end of my last year, knowing I’d been through the system and qualified in spite of everything the school system had done to break me – a relentless assault on self-worth and hope that ranged from ridicule and punishment for writing with my left hand when I was at primary school, through to imbecile disciplining over school uniforms, through to the way the high school refused point blank to allow me to leave ten minutes early on Thursdays because my parents sent me on writing courses that collided (slightly) with the end of the school day.

    I walked out the high school gate, in that final summer of school, with my friends – knowing I was moving on to university and I would never have to return to school. And I never have.

    • Hi Matthew – your comment reminds me of my mother saying, when I was complaining about school, that I would one day look back on those days as the best of my life. I assured her I wouldn’t, and I never have. My main struggle was trying to understand the sense in the system – a lot of the time, for me, it just felt at odds with the whole business of learning.

  7. I never minded my uniform too much until i got to Year 8 and had to wear a Blazer, being quite small I struggled to find one to fit and it used to pretty much hang off my shoulders making me look even smaller underneath it.
    I loved:
    – my friends
    – break/lunch time
    – nice teachers that made lessons interesting and fun
    – P.E when we got to do Gymnastics or Adventure Challenges

    I hated:
    -bullies – students and teachers – had a really mean teacher in middle school who would shout and swear at us
    -P.E when we had to do Cross-Country
    -Science – never could understand it!

    I never really minded homework as long as it made sense and I could see a purpose to it. 😛

    School in the whole was a good experience for me and I miss the ease of it, being able to see your friends everyday and pass lunchtimes having fun. It really is the best time of your life, but kids never believe you when you say that!!!

    • Hi Barmybex – I’ve just replied to Matthew’s comments above about not believing my ma when she said it was the best days of your life! I guess it depends so much on your personality and the particular schools you go to. I never had to do cross-country, but I imagine it must be even worse than hockey. I think I was fortunate in another way too, reading these comments, because I seem to have missed the whole bullying thing altogether.

      • Cross Country was horrible! Some of my worse memories come from trying to run ridiculous distances whilst being yelled at by my teacher!
        You were lucky to escape bullying, but i think I was quite lucky too, I always had friends by my side to stick up for me. 😀

  8. I quite enjoyed infant school and junior school, despite such obstacles as: a few horrible teachers, some not-very-capable teachers, the occasional bully (I was usually too self-centred to actually register that it was bullying, and mostly just treated it like all the other arguments and fights I got into – eventually punched a bully on the nose at secondary school and wasn’t bothered after that!), my problems with writing (it hurt me a lot, so I wrote much more slowly than I thought), my own frankly atrocious behaviour, the fact that everybody seemed to turn into teenagers at heart when they entered secondary school while I didn’t (I never did make any proper friends at secondary school!) and my ending up with an archenemy (the one enemy of mine who hadn’t just annoyed me and genuinely was an even more horrible person than I was despite being a goody-two-shoes – not only did she belittle me at every opportunity, I found out in Sixth Form that she’d once kicked my now-friend out of the way when friend had just fallen down the stairs and twisted her ankle).

    I liked the red uniforms during primary school (although I had the same third-hand jumper for years, and it was already faded to dark pink to begin with – it was almost pastel by the time I outgrew it). Secondary school uniform: Bottle-green. That is all. (Prefects got special navy jumpers. I had no chance of ever being a prefect. Ever. My worst enemy, naturally, was a prefect. I hid her special jumper whenever possible.)

    Homework: Never saw the point, although I did it straight away after school (on the orders of my parents). Didn’t think that I should have to work when not at school. Still have rankling memories of an English Literature essay which I ended up doing at a rate of half a paragraph per day, for every day of half-term, because any more than that gave me a migraine. And then… Miss Brownlee NEVER MARKED IT. She was also an awful teacher in general. I spent most English lessons that year staring out of the window (which was behind my seat, so I was sitting sideways on my chair).

    But I got a much better deal than my sister: she was held back in Nursery for an extra term (she really didn’t like that, she was away from her friends and felt insulted), then they tried to hold her back another term (claiming that she lacked basic skills – my mum sent them video of my sister doing everything they said she wasn’t able to!) and my mum withdrew her and home-schooled her until the school let her go to Reception and carry on as normal; she quite enjoyed school after that up until the end of Year Four (although they did once stupidly sit the boy with Tourettes’ next to her – someone with uncontrollable random outbursts is not the best neighbour for a child with Asperger’s who can’t stand loud noises or unpredictability!), but at the start of Year Five they withdrew a lot of her support at once and changed her routine around (sudden changes are the worst thing you can do to someone autistic), and she underwent something along the lines of a major nervous breakdown. By the end of her first term in Year Six, my previously cheerful little sister was spending most of each school day trying to escape, self-harming with the contents of her pencilcase (it never occurred to anybody to give her blunt pencils, apparently) or having tantrums at herself in the Quiet Room (she also once successfully wiped everything from every computer in the IT room in five minutes flat), then coming home exhausted and cranky and fighting with me. My parents had never got on well with the teachers, especially the headmistress, and lost their patience – they withdrew her (she was exempt from SATs so she’d have spent Year Six doing nothing much anyway) and have homeschooled her ever since. She still hasn’t totally recovered six years later, although the self-destructive behaviours only surface when she’s really stressed now (e.g. when I’m at home for holidays!). However, she is much more independent, and is gaining qualifications which she wouldn’t have been capable of studying for in a normal school (because she gets one-to-one teaching at home). The one downside to her homeschooling is that she hasn’t had any social interaction with anyone even close to her age for six years, and she’s getting rather lonely (she knows that she’s missing out on most of the teenage experience, and gets quite antsy about it – although discovering iTunes seems to have helped on that front for some reason).

  9. Thank you so much for this interesting comment 🙂 I think school is particularly tough for kids with aspergers – I’ve had very touching letters and emails from such people about how my self-help books have helped them deal with school socially – and a very bad experience of school can, I’m sure, cause real lasting problems. I’m glad your sister has such a loving and supportive family, and is getting through it now. My character, Maddy Monday, has a similar problem being home-schooled, that there doesn’t happen to be any other girls her age in the home-school club, though her brother’s luckier, having several great mates there. For most people, school’s OK, but for those who really struggle I’m just glad there’s more of an option to home-school nowadays, with the internet there to support families both socially and educationally.

  10. I really like secondary school now but I never really liked primary. I am a complete tomboy and when I was around eight or nine this new girl moved to my school and she thought that boys couldn’t play with girls and I spent every break playing soccer or basketball with the boys in my class so you can see the problem. She tried everything to try and get me to stop. She called me names and spread rumours. It wasn’t until I punched her in the face that she left me alone. Then when I was 12 I became home-schooled because some of my other friends were home-schooled and I wanted to try it. I loved it and was home-schooled until last September when I started secondary school.

    Great post
    Naise

    • Hi Naise – you seem to have had a love-it-hate-it relationship with school, like my Maddy and me! I think you’re lucky to have had a chance to experience both regular school and home-education. I hope secondary school’s going well.

  11. I loved my primary school, which gave me huge amounts of confidence in my ability to learn, act and make friends. Then seven years of secondary school completely knocked it out of me. I hated most of those seven years being bullied for my ‘weirdness’ i.e. Aspergers by both teachers and other students. I stopped enjoying my lessons, stopped acting altogether after being ridiculed and couldn’t make more than a couple of friends worth the name. Even now, many years after, I think my confidence has never recovered. I’ve written a couple of books but I’ve given up now because no one has ever commented favourably or unfavourably on them. It’s ironic that I ended up as a teacher and lecturer! I think that the old schooldays are the best days of your life is one of the most depressing sayings imaginable!

  12. Hi David – sorry for the delay in responding, but I’ve been away. I get occasional emails from people with Aspergers about my bullying books – I think anyone who seems different in any way is more likely to get picked on at school, and as you suggest, this can have lasting effects especially on a person’s self-confidence. I’m glad you’ve made a successful career in teaching, which I guess means you’re in a good position to notice when young people you teach are needing some confidence-building and support.

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