14 November 2006

School Days

My, how time flies. It's Tuesday again! I feel another Tuesday Tale coming up...

Tell me about your favourite school
There weren't that many... I was at the same school from 1-9 (compulsory), and one from 10-12, before going to universities in Oslo and Guildford. But favourite? Oh yes, that would be the summer school at the university of Thessaloniki - way back in 1991!

Tell me about your first day of school
I can't say I actually remember it. Just look at the photo (that's me on the left) - it's a fair assumption to say I didn't have a clear thought in my head that day... I do remember the first day in 2nd grade, though. My best friend and I were strutting throught the streets after our first day, shouting "we're 2nd graders!" -- at least until some girl passing by casually remarked "I just started 3rd grade". Devastating...

Tell me about your favourite subject
I'm one of those geeks who actually quite liked school. I'd still be studying if I hadn't needed an income... Favourites? In primary school it was everything but PE and music.. Even maths! In lower secondary school I loved English, German and Essay writing in general. In upper secondary - apart from those few (few? Hah!) months every term I was quite fed up - I mostly liked English, French, Norwegian, linguistics and German, in that order. So, all in all, English seems to be the favourite. No surprises there...

Tell me about your favourite teacher
Definitely Mr. A, our form teacher in lower secondary school. We'd had the nicest lady teacher before - but she was almost too nice, and we were quite a wild bunch.. (As you can't actually see in this photo...) So at first we really hated Mr. A. He was extremely strict. He made us stand in line outside the classroom, in twos. He made us stand by the desks at the beginning of every class. If it was the first class of the day, we'd sing a psalm and say The Lord's Prayer. If it was later in the day, he'd read us a poem or two. Once or twice he made us run outside as soon as we'd come in, because the light on the sky was so amazing - or there was something extraordinary happening downtown. He called us by our last names, and we called him by his - I think I was an adult before I knew what his first name was...

Now, things may still be like this elsewhere, but to us, this was 19th century teaching. And no other teachers did anything like this. We didn't know they had surnames...

In our second year with him, Mr. A was growing on us. He did give us a lot of homework. He could be very harsh, if you didn't pay attention or was able to answer a - to him - very simple question. But he was always fair. And he knew everything. And was completely enthusiastic about teaching!

He tricked us into understanding how you can't actually trust everything you read. He lured us into liking poetry (well, some of us already did..). He showed us history wasn't at all dull. And his compassion for what was fair and just seemed to rub off on us. I'm not saying he turned us all into heros or anything, but he did make us all do the most of what we had.

Our third year with him we mostly spent wondering what we'd do without him next year... A handful from my class spent a 10th year at school (a non-compulsory half-working half-studying year) mostly because he was teaching it.

When I was a student, possible while I was doing ancient Greek, I stopped just thinking I ought to have written him a thank you letter, and actually did. On my visits back home after I moved away, I always stopped by the school to say hello to him. First time I brought hubby - then boyfriend - I stopped by to show him off. When Jakob was born and we went up north, we stopped by school as well. Mr. A beamed with satisfaction and said: "And now, Lord, You are releasing Your servant to depart in peace, according to Your word. For with my own eyes I have seen Your Salvation". Then laughed a little, partly because he wasn't really that religious, partly because he didn't actually believe Jakob to be the second coming, and partly because my dad's a minister and he didn't want to put his foot in it... But he did appreciate us coming to see him. When we introduced him to the quads later he was ever so pleased...

We had a 20 year reunion two years ago (yes, I'm an old woman), and Mr. A was there with us. One of the "rogues" in my class, a kind but rough guy, a manual worker who doesn't do a lot of reading, asked Mr. A if he could please, please read another poem... Yes, he was a special kind. When he passed away last year, the church was filled to the brim and beyond.

Tell me your favourite school memory
You mean except Mr. A...? I feel I'm a bit exhausted by school memories right now. (And so are you, I wager!) But I will say, in general, that learning is my favourite memory on the whole. Trite, but so be it!

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