An ordinary life....

By Damnonii

Photography Challenge Day 10...

Anything from a low angle

Woo hoo!  Look at me blipping early today!  Probably just as well as yesterday's blip seems to be frightening a lot of people so best to get it out the way!  :-))

When I mentioned the photography challenge subject to David this morning he helpfully commented "well you're so short every photo you take is from a low angle."  That merited him getting hit on the head with a slice of bread I happened to be holding at the time.  Just as well it wasn't the same time yesterday when I was chopping the veg for the soup!

Anyway, my quick foray into the side garden for a photo to meet the challenge was much less dangerous than last week's as the ice has all gone.  It was freezing though so I didn't linger.

In other news...I've been so aware over the last lockdown and this one, about how much parents are stressing over home schooling and their children's education in general, during these strange and stressful times.  I am certainly glad that Alan is past that stage.  

But over the last few days in particular I have seen comments on friend's Facebook pages, where they really are getting quite distraught about it and it prompted me to share an experience of mine in response to a post a friend made trying to reassure others about the whole education situation.

I have set out to tell this tale many times during lockdown but always hesitated, wondering if it's actually relevant to the current situation.  After much thought, I've finally decided that although the cause of my situation was very different, the effects are similar, and if it helps any parent or young person to know this, then it is worth sharing.  So here goes...

After being in a road traffic accident age 14, I spent 17 months in Glasgow Royal Infirmary (May 1981 - October 1982) and so found myself abruptly removed from all that was familiar to me - home, school, family and friends - and transplanted to the adult female orthopaedic ward of GRI, a very alien and at times frightening environment for a 14 year old.

During that time I only had a tiny amount of educational input for my 5 ‘O’ Grade subjects, this being one hour per week per subject, from September 81 till March 82.  So, for 10 months out of the 17 I was away from school, I received no educational input whatsoever, and for the other seven months, only one hour per week per subject (therefore 5 hours educational input a week although in reality it was probably about half an hour per subject because there was usually a lot of catching up chat!) 

During the 7 months I was receiving some education, I was also enduring frequent operations including bone grafts and skin grafts, to rebuild my shattered legs, as well as gruelling daily Physiotherapy, so my concentration levels were low and the motivation to pick up a school book not great. 

Particular highlights were sitting my arithmetic pre-lim right before going to theatre to be operated on and whilst sedated and extremely dozy from the pre-med!   And I remember sitting my French aural exam in the ward (I was in traction so couldn't get out of bed to go elsewhere to sit it) with the curtains drawn round the bed.  I could hardly hear what was being said because the ward TV was on and Crossroads was blaring in the background! Trying to decipher the French being spoken over the chuntering of Bennie and Miss Diane was a challenge!

When the time came, I sat my 'O' Grades alone, with an invigilator, in a room in the Nurses accommodation, and when I eventually returned to school in October 1982, I rejoined 5th year (so left in 3rd year and returned in 5th year) at exactly the point I would have been had I never been away.  But the upper floors of the school were inaccessible to me so I couldn't get to as lot of my classes, and for the next few months I was in a classroom on my own with fellow pupils and teachers joining me when possible, but the majority of the time I was on my own with a teacher popping in for 20 minutes during their lunch break to set me work for the afternoon or collect work I'd done that morning.  

So I feel it is an accurate assertion to say my education was severely disrupted for two years, during a period for me, of great physical and emotional hardship.

I mention all of this not for sympathy or acknowledgment, and certainly not because I’m unsympathetic to the situation children and young people and their frantic parents currently find themselves in today, but to reassure parents that children can learn a hell of a lot from very little input so they don’t need to beat themselves up because they’re not sitting at a table with their children delivering the national curriculum from 9am -3pm. 

And for young people, I know from my experience it’s not easy being away from school or easy to learn in an environment not set up for formal education and without access to proper educational resources. And it’s damn hard being separated from family, friends and all the social norms.   And I know at times you will wonder how you will cope and at times it feels like it will never end.  

But this will end.  And life will go on.  And and it’s only then parents and young people will realise how much learning did take place, not all of it academic, but certainly just as important.

Professor Bart McGettrick, an eminent Scottish educationalist, once told me the purpose of education was forming people, rather than informing them.  That has stayed with me and I think that's what my experience did for me.  

The lessons I learned during those two years of disrupted education went far beyond what I would ever find in a school book and I am grateful for them.  They have stood me in good stead and certainly prepared me for my life to come.  

I genuinely believe that will be the case for the vast majority of young people when this is all over. 

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