Friday, November 07, 2008

When We Were Very Young.....

The first mistake of my adult life was deciding to become a physical education teacher. The nuns tried to encourage me to go to university [how I wish I'd listened to them!] and get a degree in English, or History, or some such useful subject, and come back and teach with them. My strongest objection to this line of thinking was that I knew they had a secret agenda---To deprive me of fun, and boys, and parties; to chop off my hair and stuff me in a habit at the first opportunity, and lock me inside the walls of a convent for the rest of my life! Besides, I'd been swotting my brains out all through secondary school and wasn't inclined to continue to do so! My decision to apply to physical education college was made on sound scientific principles:

1.I loved to play tennis

2.I loved to be outdoors

3.I thought I'd love teaching. I liked it a little, with serious reservations.

4. I didn't want to spend the next several years poring over text books

5.I didn't want to become a nurse, for the idiotic reason that my mother had been a nurse, and I wanted to be original! Even though I now think I would have enjoyed that line of work, and might even have been good at it.

6. Most influential of all, I'd read every book about girls' boarding schools that Enid Blyton had ever written.....

When I got there I found that---

1. Everyone else in my class was better at tennis than I. Because, while I'd been swotting my brains out, they'd been on school tennis teams; while I'd been swotting my brains out, they'd been playing field hockey, while I hardly knew the difference between a hockey stick and a hurley. While I'd been swotting my brains out, they'd been at schools that actually taught gymnastics! We had had no such instruction from the nuns, because firstly, and lastly, it would have involved shorts [legs on display!] and issues of modesty. The burka-type clothing favoured by the good sisters was hardly conducive to success at doing cartwheels and handstands and flips....Suddenly I was finding myself with frequent urges to go somewhere quiet and swot my brains out, especially if it saved me from having to go out on a hockey pitch, with a whistle dangling from my neck, and give an Oscar-worthy performance of pretending I had even the faintest idea how to umpire a match.

2.Being outdoors was lovely....when the sun shone. Not quite so delightful when the wind was howling and the icy rain lashing down.

3.I wasn't that wild about being around children all day. Especially not the children in the schools in Dublin where we regularly did our student teaching. They also knew more about hockey than I did. Many of them gave the impression that they'd been born with a miniature hockey stick in their hand. Handy for getting back at the doctor for slapping you....

4.There were still text books to be pored over. Anatomy, physiology, theory of teaching, creative movement treatises. But it made a pleasant change from making a total ass of myself in gymnastics class.....

5.Girls who had decided to become nurses didn't have to ride their bicycles, in blinding rain, the length and breath of Dublin, in search of secluded [impossible to bloody well find!] schools, where they were to show up, poised and cool, ready to teach the little darlings sports, whose rules and regulations they had only a passing acquaintance with. And........

6. Enid Blyton was, indeed, a writer of fiction!

8 comments:

peppermintpatcher said...

How disappointing reality can be in the face of a well-written fiction!

riseoutofme said...

I'm absolutely GUTTED that there isn't pictorial evidence to support this portrait of you in your mispent youth.

thailandchani said...

It almost seems like a form of cruelty to have people decide what they want to do with the rest of their lives at the raw age of 18 or so.


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Pauline said...

the mental pictures you conjured have me in stitches!

Ali Honey said...

Ah, Molly, I must have missed something earlier on - I didn't realise your were a PE teacher - I thought you were probably an English teacher....so there you go.

Unlike you I loved teaching kids sport and art and the 3 Rs. Many of the kids I encountered loved the sport content and the art cause that was what they were good at. It was learning to read and write and do maths that was difficult for them. I taught mainly in rural areas so that makes a huge difference. I loved it and so wish I had never stopped teaching.

Sometimes being not so good at something ( in my case swimming )meant you taught it very well - you understood exactly what was happening in the kids heads. ( That is particularly true with maths teaching at a higher level - The maths genius types cannot get down to simlpe basic level for many kids )
I'm SO GLAD I didn't restrictive nuns any where near me!

rhubarbwhine said...

Very funny and very well written, as always, I hang on to your words. Thanks again, I do love my visits here!

raining sheep said...

I am bent over with laughter...you asked where we get hyacinths in the middle of November in Canada (with snow stubbornly now sticking to the ground) well...the flower shop...I have no idea where they get them, but you can buy bundles and they are actually not that pricy!

Tanya Brown said...

No offense to the nuns - well, perhaps a little offense - but I'm glad you escaped their wimpled clutches.

Your aspiring to become a P.E. teacher sounds much like my aspiring to become a physicist - except that you had the sense to move on to something else in relatively short order.

Another marvelous essay!