Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Musings on school and bullying

I recently found a photograph of myself when I was about 12 on facebook.  It had been posted by someone I used to go to school with.  I find it amazing how your memory tricks you.  If you'd asked me before what I thought of my school life, I probably would have said it was uneventful but this photo took me back to a time I'd forgotten.

I changed schools when I was 14 from a comprehensive to a grammar school (because I moved to a grammar school area) and it was probably the best thing which could have happened to me.  In my first school I was mostly unhappy.  I was an outsider, a "boff" (short for boffin which was used as an insult).  I was teased, bullied and it hurt me. 

It made me think a lot about what schooling systems we have in the UK.  I'm not saying the grammar school was perfect, the focus on results has made me more of a perfectionist than it's healthy to be but at least I was with kids who were intelligent and weren't ashamed of it.  I went to university expecting to be pushed by my peers and so it wasn't a shock.  If I'd stayed in the school I was in, it would have been a lot more difficult making that transition.

That all said, the grammar school had a resolutely middle class intake.  Most of my friends at my first school came from homes with single mothers or stepfathers.  This was not the case in the grammar school. 

Now it makes me wonder whether the effect on education is to do with the school, the parents or the affluence?  Which came first?  Which has the biggest effect?

It does seem sad that there was so little variety in the background of the people who attended the grammar school as I'm sure I'm not the only one out of the people in that photograph who could have benefited from learning in a different environment.  I wonder what they're all doing now?   It seems sad that others didn't get that opportunity.  It also seems sad that a 34 year old can be ambushed by the hurt that bullying caused 22 years before.  I'm grown up now but there would be some people in that photo I would chose not to get back in touch with.

I had a think about this overnight.  I don't want to sound like some kind of victim.  In fact, I'm anything but.  Finding that photo made me think of all of the times I was mean to other kids when I was a child.  Kids find reasons to pick on other kids.  I certainly don't think it's right and I am ashamed about the times I was not so innocent.  It's sad though that intelligence is used as a reason, (not that I'm some kind of genius either.)  When did it become good to be stupid?

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