Saturday, 9 August 2008

Even more memories of a child

Home school hell

It was horrific, probably bordering on abuse and torture; however, parents do not seem to know any better especially if you are the first or the first of a particular sex.

They all seem to have this notion that their precious pickanniny is a budding genius about to take on the world and become richer than they can ever imagine, taking them into a life of untold opulence in their old age.

How better to achieve that than to encourage the child with a slap and a whip because at 4 he cannot tell the time and he is not already reciting the 13 times table to 99.

I dreaded those lesson times with mother, surely, it could have been done better and that is my beef with home-schooling, neither the rod nor the child was spared.

Learning amongst your peers

My experience reflects on the fact that you cannot gauge the aptitude of a child against its peers if the child is not taught amongst its peers. The home lessons might expose the child to aspects of knowledge that could give the child some advantage but it is usually without structure, pace or proper assessment parameters.

For a prematurely born child, there might be some learning difficulties which are never factored into the problems the child might have in development, I was blessed and lucky, but I know others who have suffered needlessly on the premise that they needed to be tutored like mules before they became like men – the whip was the path to the brain.

Army Children’s School

This episode did not last 2 months, as we were soon to move to Jos from Kaduna, it was the Army Children’s School.

The headmistress was a terrifying woman who could easily have been the witch in Hansel and Gretel [Source: Wikipedia], she went around the kids having asked us to stretch our hands out facing downwards.

Anyone that as much as had the whites of a nail showing at the end of their fingers was as bad as a bird of prey with talons so long that they were demonic, she brought her ruler down fiercely on the poor child’s fingers and it wailed with a shrieking caterwaul.

How you would expect a 5 year old to do his nails escapes me, that is the job of the parent and it should be the teachers warning to the parents to do something about it, not the headmistress playing out her sado-masochistic tendencies on hapless little children.

That is how we learnt to bite our nails, not out of nervousness but to prevent the wicked witch from having her rotten way with us – it became a habit and every once in a while, the nail clipper is really in the mouth – what you learn at 6 you probably may not forget for life.

First and last day at school

On the first day at school, no one really told me what it was about, I was taken to school by my mother and aunt with my toddler sister in tow. I was put in a class and told to stay there till they returned to get me.

She returned probably an hour before school closed, when I saw her from afar off, I got all my things and ran out to meet her – the clash of familiarity with the discipline of school – I must have marks somewhere to show.

On the last day of school, my father did not arrive on time so I got on the school bus and sat at back, I could not tell if the bus would get me home or not.

No fuss bus

Just as the bus began to move, my father’s car came up behind us, I did not fuss or clamour, we probably did the rounds of Kaduna before my father was able to flag the bus down and get me off the vehicle – my memory fails me about what happened next.

However, I know that I never fuss about public transport, I would not run to catch anything and if I miss my stop, I patiently wait for the next then make my way back – I try to be alert enough to get off where I should and try to be at stops on time to catch whatever I need to; that is one other thing that has stuck with me from childhood.

I am glad I did not spend much time in that school, I would have been regimented into a sameness that would have robbed me of my precocious disposition, my imagination and the boldness to ask questions – even between the slaps at home school, there was always the opportunity to ask and get answers to “what”, not always for “why”.

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