school was more of a challenge in my day.
MOh, how that makes me feel old.
Not only have I been hit by the realisation that she's getting properly grown up and doesn't need me to walk her to school any more but it's made me feel even older as I remember how "it used to be".
As she learns to get her head around planners and protractors I've lamented with other mums about how hard it is for 11-year-olds to make that jump to "big" school, how they seem so small for comp, how they have to wake up so much earlier, etc, etc.
And then I got a reality check.
Yes, starting comp is a big deal. But, actually, I reckon it was way harder when we mums went to high school in the 1980s and '90s.
Yes, we still got that feeling of dread on a Sunday night, the torture of double maths first thing on a Monday morning, and the cross-country run around the outskirts of Cardiff on the coldest day of the year.
But imagine our kids' faces if we told them there were plenty of other challenges they will never have to face.
Here's 10 of them...
1. Working without the help of a computer Every classroom may have its own supply of iPads and computers but we were lucky if we had one at home. The only one we could ever use was the ancient Mac in the library that didn't really do much at all. And even then you had to be fingerprinted by the sternlooking librarian before you could use it.
2. The sound of the chalk on a blackboard OK, so it was quite funny when the teacher pulled down the blackboard to find a message like "Mr Bumface" written on it by one of the pupils, but the noise of the chalk on the board? That has never left me. In fact I can't abide chalk and it's banned in my house. Even chalk for the snooker cue leaves me feeling stressed. Give me an interactive whiteboard any day of the week.
3. Having to find information in a book Oh yes we did. If we wanted to do some research on Henry VIII, we had to track down an encyclopaedia, pick it up and turn the pages until we found it. There was no cutting and pasting from Google or Wikipedia. And usually only one encyclopaedia to share between 30 resulted in much pushing, barging, page-ripping and detentions.
4. The ever-present challenge of the overhead projector It was the pinnacle of school technology long before the arrival of the computer and whiteboards but why did the paper always slip so you couldn't read the bottom corner and why did everyone moan that they couldn't read your writing? 5. Communicating by the written word If you fancied the handsome fellow at the back of the class, you literally had to get the whole class involved in getting his attention, especially if you were sat at the front. Writing a note to get passed to the back without the teacher spotting required skill and special attention. Now that takes more effort than a text, doesn't it? 6. Sore hands from the sheer effort of writing "Copy out the long extract from page 34 into your exercise books please" - they were the words we used to dread the teacher saying every English lesson. But still she did. And still how our wrists and fingers ached. I've still got the dent and hard skin on the third finger of my right hand thanks to studying English and history at A-level.
7. Doing PE in the pouring rain on a sodden pitch These days games get called off if there is so much as a bit of drizzle in the air as the rain is an apparent health and safety hazard despite the fact you have 4G pitches to run your little socks off on. Playing hockey in blizzard-like conditions not only toughened me up, it gave me legs that looked a bit like corned beef hash too. And the burn in the bath afterwards? Ouch.
8. Indoor games meant gymnastics on the blue mats Forget all those lovely state-ofthe-art gym machines you have for "wet weather" games. If we weren't able to go outside for sport, usually when the teacher didn't feel like battling with the elements, the PE lesson consisted of doing a thousand forward rolls on the sticky blue gym mats and handstand demonstrations which made you giddy until hometime.
9. There was no such thing as a word count Well, actually, there was. But you had to do it yourself. With your finger.
10. School reports were hugely personal Reports from teachers used to be handwritten with a scribbled comment from every teacher rather than having to pick a choice of five different options on a computer. So if you chatted in class your mum and dad would certainly be told.
'Writing a note to get passed to the back without the teacher spotting required skill and special attention. Now that takes more effort than a text, doesn't it?'
Today's schoolchildren don't have to deal with the challenges of overhead projectors, the sound of chalk on blackboards or researching |without the help of Google JEFF J MITCHELL