Lessons beyond the subject at hand

The Examiner

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Joyous Kwanza, and Fabulous Holidays to you all, dear readers. I hope you get to spend time with family and friends despite the 6-foot rule, and that by this time next year we will have returned to some form of normality.

Now that I’ve taken care of seasonal issues, my mind was spun back in time when I saw a post on Facebook the other day. “Did you wear one of these?” was the caption – and below it was a photo of a grey school tunic, a grey shirt under that, and a striped tie.

Annie Dear

Yes, indeed I did – almost identical to the one I wore for my whole school life, except my tie was blue and gold.

Despite its lack of anything remotely associated with fashion, it was just a "thing." There was no shaking of fists at the unfairness of it all, no bleating about our human rights being wrenched from our ink-stained fingers – it just, well, was. We didn’t have to think about ‘what to wear today’.

Neither did we have to think about the curriculum we either enjoyed or suffered in silence – silence being the operative word when it came to learning. 

Despite the fact that I’ve never put algebra to use since I left school, and Lord knows calculus has never crossed my brain for a nanosecond since then, I appreciate the fact that I indeed passed math class and I guess it taught me all about perseverance if nothing else. I am definitely not mathematically minded, unlike Sir who can whip out answers involving numbers, odds and likelihoods without breaking a sweat.

Sir, on the other hand, can be faced with a jumble of six letters and couldn’t come up with an English word. Oh he’d make some up on the way to our solving the Jumble, but even then he would still ask “how do you spell ‘window,’” which of course earned him a withering look from moi.

No, I was definitely into the language side of my education, and haven’t got a clue as to the names of my math and science teachers but even now fondly remember those of all of the English and French teachers from way back when. 

I remember a demon of a teacher in elementary school who, as luck would have it, I scored twice in different grades. Miss Teasel was a large woman, with a shelf for a bosom and gave off the odor of vitamin burps. My memory of her was that she was easily displeased with her 30-odd charges but managed to drill into us, come what may, the art of penmanship.

Although my handwriting is not as pristine as it once was, I can still pen a pretty letter when needed.

So it was with a bit of a laugh when I asked my doctor about some good ankle exercises, as mine give me the odd amount of gyp from time to time.

“Write the alphabet with your feet,” came the answer. It’s actually a very thorough workout for ankles, but at the time all I could think of was:

“Upper or lower case? Cursive or block printing?”

Annie Dear lives in Lee’s Summit. Email her at anniedear@icloud.com.