Sunday 25 October 2009

Childhood: My first Corona Primary School reports

Paper terms for term papers

The durability of the paper is unquestionable to wit that I have been digging through my archives and reading through all sorts of documents.

My oldest enduring personal document is probably my original NHS card which along with the important NHS information also includes the historical details of where we lived in Walsall, West Midlands near Birmingham in the 60s.

I have always had in a drawer close to my office my baptismal certificate given by the Anglican Church in Jos on the 31st of March 1975, though I did eventually have a real baptism in flowing water in 1987, the dip was a lot better and spiritual than the dab, in my opinion.

The other day, I went for a rummage in my storage room where I was lifting and shifting stuff I should have left to abler people – I broke sweat and retired to deep slumber because it was just so much work.

However, I returned to my apartment with a sheaf of school reports running from primary school through to tertiary institutions. It was nice to review what traits had been formed and which had changed as one grew older.

My oldest school report

For this report dated the 21st of July 1972, the earliest I can find, when I was 6 years and 7 months and nominally a year below the class average age, I had just finished class 2 and was to go to class 3 in the next term. Though prematurely born, my physical development allowed to be assessed as older and capable - that was in many things but physical exercise. When I was 7 I had size 6 shoes which is 40 in European meansurements.

My conduct was good and the rest of the report read as follows:

Arithmetic: Akinola is currently doing subtraction using the “decomposition” method. We have begun the decimal system and he is quite interested. [We still used hundred weight and other archaic methods then.]

Reading: Fair, He makes slow but steady progress. “Janet & John”, Scheme: “Out and About.” [Our second pet dog after the chicken killer, Brutus died was named Scot after the dog in the Janet & John Series. We had a separate reading teacher who spent up to an hour a week on reading, spelling, pronunciation and other literary skills.]

English: Quite good but could work more quickly.

Story and Composition: Has a tendency to dream – consequently takes a long time to write anything. [What was she talking about?]

Handwriting: Good [I have tried hard to maintain that.]

Geography: Good but doesn’t always listen hard enough. [Come think of it, I can still remember all the 12 states of Nigeria then and most of their military governors – probably wasn’t much of an interesting class.]

History: [Seems to have been combined with Geography, I have ditto marks in the space for remarks.]

Nature: Good. [I loved the carrots we planted in the school garden.]

Art: Average [I was no Picasso.]

Handwork: Average [Still no good at DIY.]

My teacher was Karen Mitchell, I can hardly remember her, but the head mistress, P Deut-Young was the wife of the head of the Amalgamated Tin Mines of Nigeria where my dad worked.

The very next term report

So by December the 15th we came to the end of the 1st term in class 3 and there were notable changes, my conduct was satisfactory with the comment that I was careless over my things. [My age was registered as 7+ when in fact I was not going to be 7 until the 21st of December. An unfortunate situation, but who has their reports to show today? Fine they were in custody of my father for a while but I’ve had them for almost 25 years.]

Arithmetic: Very good. He has a good knowledge of sums on money, length and addition with carrying. [Sums like age, definitel better than my teacher and we still did pounds, schillings and pence.]

Reading: Great improvement. He is catching up fast and loves reading “Janet & John” series: “My Little Book” no. 23. [Same persevering reading teacher, I remember those classes.]

English: Good. Akin’s expression is very good. He enjoys his English work-book.

Story and Composition: He likes stories. He can write simple ones. [No more dreamy but I really hated writing letters and could never be persuaded to write letters for years into secondary school. Just was not comfortable with that.]

Handwriting: Very good.

Geography & History were combined into Social Studies: He discusses intelligently on this subject.

Nature: Good. [We never got to use the cucumbers I took home till they rotted away in the pantry. Suppose our dietary regime at home did not include those things.]

Art: Average [Was conducted by my teacher from class 2.]

Handwork: He likes handwork. [Do I? I do remember in later years making mufflers and other things.]

Mrs. Agbelusi was my teacher then and we became family friends, it was a her son’s birthday party that I first saw the Polaroid camera in action, I was so fascinated by it.

The head mistress was now Beatrice Q. Macphee who had an M. A. and B. Com degrees, how very interesting.

My teacher forgot to put in the right year for the start of the next term which should have been 9th January 1973 and not 1972.

Good primary education has benefits

In any event, it was nice to see the enduring traits that had already been settled by the time one was almost 7 years old and really it goes without saying in my particular case that my primary school education was a sure foundation for whatever else I have become today. I am deeply grateful for that.

If I remember correctly, I did come across a receipt for the payment of my school fees at Corona Primary School, it was 14 Pounds, I cannot however remember the year, if it was per term or any other particular detail.

I might soon publish PDFs of those reports and review others as I went through primary and secondary school – in the end, education is good, but the quality must never be scrimped on; a difficult but particular lesson for parents.

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