The village near me has not got a very good reputation for behaviour or providing the best set of pupils going through the lower school, now in fact a junior school. Ever since the early 1960s, there has been a strong criminal element to the community – caused by the provision of specially built council houses for prisoners after their release. One or two of the original tenants were very serious criminals and the rest of their clan seemed to spend the next 40 years basking in this dubious glory. However, one or two of the latter generation have seen the light and showed much greater brightness and ability to learn and improve their lot. Several of the grandchildren have since been offered online learning resources to top up their achievements after somewhat patchy attendance. Once they realised they could do the work – and enjoyed it, there was no stopping them.
I have had the dubious joy of helping out an activity group for the ‘over 55s’. Looking at the make up of the attendees, I’m thinking they probably did all join when they were 55, and none have left, some 30 years down the line. You can guess the ages of the majority. My heart sank as I entered that sadly battered old community hall – I was dreading the gummy ramblings of a lot of old biddies. How wrong was I! Through the regular contact every fortnight, playing just a couple of games of bingo and a variety of snap card game, I have come to really appreciate their bonding over the years. How they interat with one another. These ladies are really bright and knowledgeable about many current affairs, geography, reading matter, and arithmetic. Their limited education seems to have equipped them all with sound minds and ability to learn and absorb information constantly throughout their long, contented lives.
One of the most amazing things I have learnt in the many years since leaving senior school is my ability to pick up a thread of knowledge and run with it so much more fluently than when I struggled all those years ago. At school I was averagely bright. Only a couple of the teachers made an effort to quell my clumsiness and giggling – usually through awkwardness but taken as just stupidity! One of those was our English teacher – in our school the poor chap took both language and literature. I actually did very well at both. This was definitly due to my father who was a terrific reader and mimic. He used to read bed time stories, adding hilarious comic character voices. In fact, this helped me to become well known as a good ‘reader outloud’ and I relished the opportunity to read any passages asked of me. Those early lessons became my way of life. Thanks Dad!