Column: Flying board dusters and failing exams in a seventies classroom

Carol Forster recalls life in a seventies classroom
Carol Forster recalls life in a seventies classroom

Looking back at those ‘halcyon’ days of the 1970s, children hopped and skipped to school to ‘enjoy’ lessons which were hardly today’s model of support and assistance for the struggling pupil.

Back in ye olden days, the concept of helping those with learning difficulties was still just a vague notion in a kind person’s mind.

Today pupils are fairly cosseted in comparison, with help at every step of the way, and all efforts to ensure that badly behaved Johnny is given the best chance in life.

This, sometimes, to the point of absurdity when you consider that many a child from difficult circumstances is well behaved. I digress!

Also, back in the 1970s unbelievably, it was still perfectly acceptable, to toss the odd board rubber across the classroom should the teacher be a little disgruntled with some miscreant.

It was also deemed normal teaching practice to humiliate the lad in front of his fellow pupils and other staff.

Many a person of a certain age will recall such instances in their classes of the day, when this, combined with the awful sound of chalk on board, were daily features.

Other such delights included the absent teacher.

This is when said purveyor of knowledge would leave the room for almost an hour, leaving a riotous class to get on with some boring textbook exercises.

Or perhaps you will remember the marking teacher, perched at desk, red pen in hand when barely a word would be exchanged.

Of course, the work never took place and instead, the pupils had bags of fun.

Perhaps the most ghastly memory, however, is that of the process known as Norm Referencing.

Here hapless pupils’ exam results would be announced to the whole class from top to bottom.

The teacher’s tone would change accordingly halfway through as some wretched child’s name was read out to all and sundry as the year’s big failure, while the top few crème de la crème would be exalted on high.

The word humiliation certainly springs to mind, unless you were particularly good at a subject, of course.

And, perhaps worst of all, the textbook filled with lifeless exercises to work through.

Aargh! At least some things have progressed.