I loved school, but had some bad experiences in primary school. My worst memory of primary school was waking up on a seat in the yard in the rain after cutting my finger with a balsa knife and passing out! What made matters worse was, the ‘trained’ first aider thought it would be best to put me in a seat in the middle of the yard in the rain to get me to pull around! No wonder I’ve had a problem with needles and passing out ever since.
The one that stays with me to this day was the barbaric Friday morning spelling test. It had been building up all week, I was and still am terrible at spellings and it all stems from this poorly organised and executed exercise in humiliation. I have a stutter, I have some degree of control on it now but I suffered badly when I was younger and whenever I had to do a reading exercise I would always be marked down because of this, the problem went hand in hand with my spellings.
I love to read and have hundreds of books but it always looked like I couldn’t read due to my stutter; I knew the words, I just found it hard for them to come out. But getting back to my spellings, we would get 20 words to learn and spell, then have a test on a Friday morning. To say I dreaded it was an understatement. I tried hard to learn them by writing them down and saying them out loud, then giving myself a little test to see how many I remembered. I also had very bad handwriting (something I am very ashamed of), Kerry says I look like I have a well trained spider that crawls across the page. I have been told it is connected with my stutter because I think fast so my writing can’t keep up with my thought pattern, so it comes out messy (that’s my story and I am sticking to it).
Friday morning would come and the fear of the test would make me sick with panic, we would all sit at our desks and be handed out little strips of paper and we would write down the spelling as the teacher tells us. But she would always mix them up in order to make it even more difficult than I already found it! I would still try my best. Once we were finished we would have to give them to someone else to mark ; she could have at least marked it herself after we had put in all that effort all week. This I found to be the worst bit because kids can be awful and very cruel, laughing at each mistake you make and telling everyone in earshot how bad you were at the spellings. I know now it was a lot of work with adrenaline and how to harness it to help you deal with the pressure. When you were 8 the only pressure you had in your daily life was playing football at playtime and getting a numb bum during the Friday afternoon hymn practice. I didn’t care if morning had broken, my bum was broken sitting on the cold wooden floor in the big hall at Murton primary school.
I don’t know what was the worst bit about the spelling test but as a whole it has affected my life as a really bad way to teach and an even worse way to learn, but hopefully times have changed and this barbaric thing does not happen to any other children. I don’t think being ridiculed for your speech impediment or mocking people to get them to spell correctly is a great teaching method and the only thing I learned from this was that I would never want to make someone I taught to ever feel like this, and if they did, I would do everything in my power to not make them feel like this. I would also explain to others not to treat people badly so they don’t have to carry this feeling around for the rest of their lives.
Be nice to each other and help people when you can.
Big love from the AFC