"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Friday, December 24, 2010

Failing Writing.

Did I ever tell you that I used to get 'Bs' in English and 'As' in Maths?

Oh, those were the days.

You see, that was a time when 'English' was 'knowing how to write'. Apparently, I couldn't write. Not legibly, anyway.

'Maths' only meant that you had to write the numbers legibly. Apparently they turned a blind eye at the fact that I wrote '3' backwards.

Do you remember handwriting lessons?

I used to hate them. I failed to see the point of teaching all children to write the same way and yelling at them if they wrote a 'g' a different way than on the board. I mean, my mum, sister and dad (the only three people I had regular contact with who could read and write) all had different handwriting, so what was wrong with mine?

A lot, apparently.

For starters, I wrote backwards - like, right-to-left, like Hebrew. Pity I wasn't learning Hebrew. My parents had to read all my pre-primary writing in a mirror.

Secondly, I liked pens. I didn't like pencils, or gel pens (although I like gel pens now, just not the stains I get from them on my sleeves). Pencils smudged too much. They were childish. People could rub my name off my work, put their name, and pass something, for a change.

I was left handed, which also meant that if I was sitting on the 'wrong side' of the desk (we had to share desks in primary school. Oh, they were the days.) I would engage in elbow wars. Now, most sensible teachers would swap the freaky left-hander so that I could only elbow-war the air, but some of my teachers were OCD about sitting boy-girl. So it really wasn't my fault that every boy I had to sit next to had a pink elbow by the end of the week.

Then there were 'pen licenses'.

I never got the point of pen licences. You got driving licences from people who knew what they were doing. You had to be a certain age. You had to fit a certain critera. With pen licenses, you get them and lose them whenever the teacher wants to give/take them. Teachers don't know what they're doing. The only criteria you had to fit was to not get on the teachers nerve, and when you're the overachieving freaky Asian left-hander it's very hard not to get on the teachers nerve.

Also, the person who was giving out pen licences was my fourth-grade teacher, who had the worst handwriting I had, have or will ever see. It all seemed a bit hypocritical to me, really.

In year six I finally managed to maintain my pen licence for more than a fortnight (although it never really bothered me whether I had a 'pen licence' or not, because my fourth-grade teacher lost track of who was given their pen licence and my fifth grade teacher couldn't stop me from 'illegally' using a pen because I didn't have anything else to write with). And then I wanted to rebel. I didn't want to write in cursive, I wanted to print. Upper school students weren't supposed to print. But then, when I was in lower school and we were supposed to print I wanted to write in cursive.

That was something I didn't get either. What is the point of teaching us to print, then teaching us cursive, and then telling us to stop printing?


In year seven my teacher let me write however I wanted, so I got really inventive. Hearts on all my 'i's. My third grade teacher yelled at me for not leaving two fingers between each word so I made up for it in the seventh grade by leaving five.

I never understood why my seventh grade teacher wasn't impressed.

Two years on and I still can't write very legibly unless I really give it some thought. I learned how to type when I was about eight and I haven't really given much thought to the mundane idea of actually writing something since. I mean, how nineteenth century. Puh-leez.

You know, they told me I would never get anywhere if I didn't write neatly, if I didn't pass math, if I didn't pick up a sport and called it a sport (I called anything I did an 'art' and it annoyed them), if I didn't get a boyfriend. Well, guess what? I can't write neatly. I failed math. I didn't pick up a 'sport' I 'ice skate' which is an 'art' and I don't have a boyfriend. But I'm skipping a grade, any you're all middle-aged hags trapped in a government primary school tormenting people like me with pen licences. And I bet you all wrote neatly, passed math, picked up a 'sport' and had boyfriends.

1 comment:

Adelaide Dupont said...

Lots of empathy from over here, Lady Renegade.

Fortunately the National Curriculum will be about a lot more than such surface indicators of literacy and numeracy. There will be a depth curriculum.

(And I would not praise the National Curriculum for any reason, not while me and mine aren't getting the benefits!)

I didn't know that pen licences could be lost. Once you gained them, that was it for the rest of the year. And it would be part of the "appropriate equipment" which was counted in Work Habits.

Oddly enough, someone reading my short Christmas list said I had nice handwriting. Now anyone who knows me a little bit intimately would probably disagree.

Have been reading Mentor about a 14-year-old who writes more for accuracy than for speed, especially when he is doing tasks which might require quick processing, and changing between tasks.

(Not even Christmas cards or letters to penfriends? A nice ink pen will take care of that, and gel pens are fantastic!)

And I thought English - or language/literacy - was speaking, listening (at least in the first 2-3 years), viewing, reading, writing and thinking (and those great metacognitive skills).

Yes, you did say something about (your respective marks in) English and Maths in that epic post you wrote about being bored.

The kid is smart. Why is it failing?