Monday, September 04, 2006

First Days

Z started primary school last week. What we called Primary 1 is called CP here meaning Cours Préparatoire although what it’s preparatory for I’m not quite sure. It’s clear that his school experience is going to be very different from mine which I can just about remember despite the oceans and oceans of water that have flowed under the bridge since then.

Take his satchel for example, it’s a swanky, colourful, contraption with plastic clips, multiple pockets, skateboarding logos and even a key-ring. Mine was a brown leather satchel, full stop.

Despite living in the sunniest place in Britain, I also don’t remember ever going to school in shorts and a t-shirt which is all Z has worn so far.

Then there are all the friends: a swarm of best and bestish friends he has messed around with since they arrived in nursery together. When I went to school I knew not a single soul on the entire island I had just arrived on, never mind in the mixed class of 5 to 8 year-olds I was about to join. I had certainly never been to nursery — did they even exist in the sixties ? No, I came fresh from five cosy years at home with my Mummy in a pinny, watching Camberwick Green.

However, what actually goes on inside the classroom here seems closer to pre-war pedagogy than anything I ever experienced. The children sit in rows looking towards the maître or the maîtresse at the front. Today I had to buy a little slate on which Z, like all his classmates, will chalk the answers to the teacher’s questions before they all hold them up for inspection. Even in the Inner Hebrides, where incidentally all the other kids seemed to be related to each other in some way, we did some of that new-fangled group work.

It’s going to be an interesting year.


Ms Mac said...

Gosh! I am gobsmacked! Firstly at the thought that you may be old enough to have gone to primary school in the sixties- Nay, ye jest!

And secondly that the Swiss school system may not be quite as antiquated as others. I mean, my boys have to use fountain pen and ink cartridges in class but slates and chalk just takes the (zucchini) cake!

ps. I sailed in and around the islands of Mull, Tiree and Rhum, Eigg and Muck once. It was so lovely. I even managed to buy a pint or two in a pub in Tobermory despite being the tender age of 13!!! (I was tall)

Sarah Mackenzie said...

I don't think tallness had anything to do with it, Ms Mac. Our school bus used to stop at the pub half way between our village and the school and we all used to get off and have a vodka, or a whisky, or a whatever a 12 year old's whimsy may have dictated in those innocent days long afore the dawn of alcopops.

Hmmm. But even way back then in the mists of jurassic time we didn't have slates and chalk.

Jotters and a pencil. We certainly wouldn't have been trusted with fountain pens although our desks had the little hole where an ink pot would once have been.

We got the belt though, or a ruler across the knuckles, or we had to stand on one leg on the desk for the lesson, or be tickled by the teacher while lying on the desk for the education and edification of all those developing young minds (or was it for the teacher's?) - so I would say it was still pretty unenlightened.

And Lesley, don't you remember the long spring days sliding into where you wore a crisp cotton ginghamy/ppatterny dress to school, and white ankle socks with t-bar brown leather sandals with crepe soles and a cardigan primly buttoned on the first button beneath your chin? And of course as you say - the leather satchel with the playpiece (a digestive biscuit and an apple in my case). I can smell and feel it all now. Long warm hazy days that started early, early in the morning with a dampness and mistiness and stillness broken only by the bleating of lambs in the fields. And the smell of summer to come. Glorious ;)

BeefKing said...

...And don't sweat the schoolbag, either: K has a simple brown leather satchel. Full stop. And he likes it. So some things maybe are better left as they have always been.

Lesley said...

Ms mac : It was the LATE sixties.

Sarah: We had those ink holes on our desks too, with little porcelain pots in them. As for the summer memories - I'm going to have to dig deeper, but I liked yours.

Beefking: The brown satchel was good, but the buckles took ages for little fingers to do and undo.

Sarah Mackenzie said...

Actually we just had the holes. No little porcelain pots :/

teacher dude said...

It's the same here in Greece as far as primary schools are concerned. The books they use were written in the early 80's and are awful. Also we have the same kind of gaudy bags you describe.

Jonathan said...

But didn't you like your satchel anyway, even though it was just brown leather. I know I did.

It's all relative...

Lesley said...

I certainly liked it a lot more than the black briefcase I got when I went into first year at High School because it snagged my tights.