We had been in high school for about a week and had begun to settle into our routine.All of us had got lost at least once as we would have to go to a new classroom for every lesson. Our form tutor Steve Harvey would also be our English teacher this year.This was welcomed by us all as he was a great teacher and a very nice guy.
We would have to report to him both first thing in the morning and after lunch to have the attendance register marked. We also had to do a class called Pass which was an acronym for something to which I have no recollection.
This was a good class as it was only once a week and it was primarily discussion-based and we also would have a laugh when doing it. Harvey also acted as a good bullshit filter as he left out a few of the modules as they were not relevant.
It seemed some of the modules were designed for 7-year-olds and he would show us these ridiculous outdated sheets.I can’t remember all of the stupid topics but I remember one was called how clean are you?
We were supposed to fill in a survey they colour in a picture of a teddy bear in the bath. Then Harvey was supposed to teach us for 45 minutes the importance of getting washed.
Give Harvey his due he would either give us something else to do which would benefit us or he would tell us to do some homework. He cared about our education and he would always do his best to deliver the best possible lessons.
If he needed someone to do something for him like take a message to another teacher he would never pick any of us he would always ask who fancies a walk and as a result, someone would always volunteer.
A lot of the time it would be me as it would usually be a note to a teacher which would be in an unsealed envelope. I would on my walk to see the teacher end up reading the note because I was bored and nosey.
Most of the time it was nothing exciting but now and then you would hear about a meeting or a student being suspended which would then be thrown into the rumour mill with all the other stuff we were learning while starting this new school.
Harvey never treated me any different from any of the other children which were greatly appreciated due to my dyslexia which as it was not recognised caused me so many difficulties.
I’ve spoken about this in earlier blogs but ill touch on it again now as it’s relevant.Now there are many different forms of dyslexia that all come under the disability umbrella. Back in 1991, you were either a full-blown headcase who couldn’t write his name or spell dog, or you didn’t have it.
Many teachers knew this was a deeply flawed system but others would single me out in front of the class and try to make a twat out of me. Learning difficulties or not what kind of shitbag would think this is the best way to motivate a child?
I know it was a long time ago but so many people who to put it bluntly were shit at life were teachers especially back then. Most of this happened when I was in junior school which became the catalyst for me just fucking about and being a nightmare for most of my high school years.
Many teachers would never ask the question why?They had no intention of going to the source they just wanted the pay cheque and the nice holidays. I have tried to add many former teachers on Facebook over the years and all but a couple have declined me.
These are not teachers I had major problems with for the most part and even teachers who I got on well with but they don’t want to know. I don’t lose sleep over this but it makes you wonder why?When they have 26 mutual friends to you but don’t want to know you?
There is no shortage of people like this and I call them smiling assassins. They are nice when they see you and in your company but as soon as your back is turned they will throw you to the wolves.
This surprises me a lot with teachers as they are educated so you would think they would be more likely to make up their mind or see for themselves, unfortunately not. Throughout our lives, we will all encounter these smiling assassins but when we were in school we have no power over this and can cause a lot of damage if left unchecked.
I’ve just found this definition on Google and this is not directed towards teachers but smiling assassins, in general, see below.
The Smiling Assassin is a so-called friend who is really an enemy whose main weapons are inconsistency and unpredictability. They use rumors to undermine colleagues and adopt a passive-aggressive, indirect, dishonest style of dealing with people and issues.
We all got off the bus and headed towards morning registration. I remember it was cold and we walked quickly to get into class. There were about fifty people outside the school protesting and I felt sorry for them.
Some genius in the city council had changed the catchment areas for the schools a month before we were all due to go back to school. Like most projects, the council starts they put no thought or common sense into it.
Many children lived five minutes away and were told they had to go to other schools away from all their friends. Some children were also told they had to go to terrible schools which I won’t mention but those who know, know. I was proud of the parents as they stood their ground and said no.
This protest went on for almost two weeks with the parents keeping the children off school. This made the local newspapers and was mentioned a lot on the radio. Finally, the council was willing to negotiate and about 80 percent of the kids were allowed to attend our school.
The way the school worked was in the first and second year you had to do the set subjects given to you and when you went into the third year you could choose what you wanted to do except maths English and science which were all compulsory.
If you were one of the clever kids or you had a good memory from working in one rigid way then science would be three separate GCSEs. However, if you were one of the stupid kids as we were labelled you would do a dual award which meant you got one GCSE instead of three.
This was a rigged game as if you did a lower tier exam paper you needed a much higher grade to pass and many were not able to get eighty percent in a paper. This was not the school’s concern though as long as they had completed their tick in the box exercise and said every child has had the option of education then the conveyor belt kept moving.
The work became a lot harder quickly and I just acted up. It was a whole new environment with new people so everyone was trying to make a mark in their own way. I was told that I would never get a job repeatedly in juniors and would never amount to anything and even though I knew it wasn’t true I certainly wasn’t going to play their game and fall in line.
I figured out quickly that the game was rigged and for someone like me further education at the time wasn’t possible. I knew I was no idiot as I did know the answers but putting this onto paper it looked like a drunk five-year-old had written it.
I’m the first to admit I did myself no favours even though my cards were already marked so most of the teachers spent a total of thirty seconds marking my work and at times gave me the big tick to show how much of a good boy that I was.
Even at 11, I could see how fake and pathetic many of these people were. It became apparent in both the first and second year that I was having difficulties with the work. The only two teachers who made the connection to me acting up were Steve Harvey and Janine Kitchen.I started seeing a special needs teacher called Mr. Mckeen.
Mckeen was a great teacher but his resources were limited. He was an excellent teacher but he was responsible for all of the children who had learning difficulties and there were a lot of us.
Unfortunately, there was no actual curriculum that followed what my classmates were doing in school and they adopted a one size fits all for all of us which as you can imagine was a waste of time.
We would have discussions and do group work and I would excel and that.Then in the afternoon, we were told we are going to colour in pictures.
I didn’t act up in his lesson as he was a nice guy who cared but even he saw quickly that I had no place in his class and I went there less and less. It was unfortunate that Mckeen was not more equipped as there was absolutely no help available for me and many others.
I’m writing this in a good place as I managed to do OK for myself but there were many just like me who fell through the cracks and were failed a lot worse by the broken system.It was also a lot harder to study back then as there was no internet.
There were not many suitable books in the school library either so you would have to go to a normal library and hope they had what you needed and that it was not outdated. Nobody did this and it wasn’t encouraged at all. I remember finding out at the end of the first year that in the second year we would be in sets for maths and English. We had exams and we were told to study for them.
In schools now they teach study skills and different ways to learn but back then this was non-existent. I remember thinking to myself ill read through all my workbooks that will help me.
Spoiler alert it didn’t help at all and I failed all of my exams badly which reinforced to many teachers that I was stupid. It was years later in the City of Liverpool College I was taught about learning styles and study skills which found out what works best for you.
I found I was a visual learner so in college, I took pictures of everything and I made YouTube my best friend. This got me into university and then got me a degree.
It baffles me why things like this were not taught and we were assumed to know so much and if we didn’t we were the ones at fault. We would have to carry a homework diary around with us at all times. Once a week our parents would have to sign it to say they had seen it.
If they didn’t sign it you got detention and if you got two bad comments you also got detention.Year detention was an hour long and it was just people from your year which was held on a Tuesday after school.
School detention was ninety minutes long and it was everyone in the school in the one hall
It was set in stone that I would end up on both of them and then I would usually end up in an argument in the detention because whoever was running the detention would kick-off. You would try and do your homework and they wanted you to copy out of a book.
Many of the teachers running the detention didn’t want to be there and would just let you do work as long as there was no talking this was fair enough in my eyes as it was a punishment after all.
To be honest, If I wasn’t allowed to do homework in detention then it wouldn’t get done, and then I would be in more trouble. Looking back it baffles me how nobody stepped up and said why is Arlo in this continuous negative loop?
Let’s figure out how to help him after all it would have made their lives so much easier if they didn’t have to watch me like a hawk. I’m not going to lie I was a little insecure about my future but I knew that I wasn’t the person that many of these teachers were making me out to be.
I also figured out that if these people had their shit together would they be singling out children and belittling them in front of a crowd for their amusement and would they be trying to intimidate 11-year-olds and make them cry?
One of the things I learned from being bullied by my old teacher Francesca is never back down.These teachers who would try to take liberty with you and single you out what’s to stop them taking things further and hitting you?
Many teachers did this but not with me except for a few close class which ill explain in later blogs. I remember I was quite good at drawing and I thought to myself it’s OK that I cant do the work that was given to me I can do some art-based A levels.
That idea was drummed out of me very quickly by my art teacher Mrs. Marr and then next year Miss. Adams. I remember telling Adams that I love to draw and I was a big fan of comic books.
Why are you telling me this Arlo?
Because its art and that’s what I want to do
What do you mean to do?
I want to work for Marvel or DC and draw their comics for them.
Don’t be ridiculous as if they would hire the likes of you
What do you mean the likes of me?
You haven’t got a chance now sit down and be quiet
Then the same teacher would be sat in her chair gobsmacked that I would fuck about in her lesson. Miss Marr wasn’t a bad person but she could not think outside the box. She never said anything like that but she would not entertain my idea of art whatsoever.
It was all about drawing fruit in a bowl in something equally boring and dull.I would always get decimated as well and told I was not trying and I wasn’t bothered.I was fuming about this as it’s what I wanted to do and I felt I was being held back by these clowns.
Marr ended up digging her own grave she tried to reinvent herself with our class and make out she was a very strict teacher and that simply wasn’t the case. This is typical with insecure people they try and force their will upon you and if you don’t know the person then this will sometimes work.
I wasn’t the only one who was bored to tears and quite quickly her lesson became a free for all. Most of the class would just fuck about and we gave her so much grief.The fucked up thing was if she had just been OK with us from the start we wouldn’t have done this even with the boring lessons.
This seemed to happen in many of her classes as word spreads like wildfire amongst the kids and if I remember rightly Chris Famakis was banned from her lessons in the first year. This only got worse as the years went on and one lesson she completely lost control.
Bobby Sing who is three years younger than me told me his lesson just completely broke down and every time she tried to shout he kept blowing a football whistle full blast.
That class went way overboard but she had sowed the seeds of her own destruction and she disappeared from school not long after that. I saw her a month later in the supermarket and stopped to chat with her.
I hadn’t been her student for years and compared to other classes she took I was a choirboy. She told me she was having a break from teaching and would maybe go back next year. It was sad as she looked like she had been through the mill.
Even though she could not think outside the box she wasn’t a bad woman and I felt for her. She never returned to Gateacte and I’m not sure what happened to her. I’ve just jumped into the future about Marr in the last paragraph so ill do the same with Adams. She was quite similar to Mar but she did have control of the class.
I thought I would give art another try but I learned quickly that it was more of the same nonsense. We didn’t act up nearly as badly as we did with Mar but we made her life hard as she wasn’t particularly nice to us.
She was always sucking up to the head of art Miss. Prishlack We would all be working and she would disappear and return with Prishlack
Look at all the amazing work that my class is doing Miss. Prishlack.
They are working ever so hard today Miss Prishlack
Miss Prishlack that’s a lovely dress it makes you look so pretty
I remember even at 12 years old I was embarrassed for her. She was always trying to crawl up Prishlacks arse and it was painful to watch. I think Prishlack probably thought the same but entertained her for a quiet life. If one of us acted up while Prishlack was in the room then Prishlack would shout at us with Adams stood behind her nodding. After the bollocking then Adams would step in
You heard Miss Prishlack back to work all of you.
One day we had homework to do and it was to find a leaf in our back garden and draw it. I did the homework and I spent about an hour doing it as well. Adams checked our homework and went ballistic on me. She was calling me a liar and telling me that I had done the homework in five minutes on the way up to class.
What was funny about this is Billy Collins had done that and she told him well done and he had got away with it. She was going all guns blazing at me and I screamed back at her and she scurried off out of the class.
This is going to be interesting I thought and within a minute Adams had come in with Prishlack. I got about a 5/10 bollocking from Prishlack as Adams stood behind her with her head down. Now the gloves were off she had completely lost my respect.
She had questioned my integrity, screamed at me, spoken down to me like I was a mug, then when I stood up to her she ran away. I could see exactly what she was about and so could the rest of the class. When this happens the teacher starts to lose control and it never ends well.
Prishlack got the worst of it as Adams would run into her room when things got bad and get her to rescue her from us monsters. One day Prishlack had enough and lost it with Adams.
Miss Adams, you need to take control of your class and stop bothering me every 5 minutes.
She stormed out leaving a defeated Miss Adams not knowing what to do next.
Thinking back all of the art teachers were a little flawed. I was talking to my friend Paul in the year above me and he told me of an art teacher who was having sex with a pupil.His car would be parked outside her house all the time sometimes all night.
Then Paul started with the comments calling him a dirty dick and asking if he had fun last night because he was out late. Paul lived three doors down from him and he made it clear that he knew what he was doing.
This teacher has never been convicted so unfortunately, I can’t name him but when Paul used to call him some shocking stuff usually paedophile based he would go the colour of beetroot and walk away with his head down.Next thing this teacher’s car suddenly started to get damaged.
Little things at first and they kept getting worse and worse. One day this teacher kept Paul behind and went ballistic on him. He told him straight
Look I know it’s you who keeps damaging my car so you might as well admit it because I’ve phoned the police
Paul laughed in his face
No, you haven’t and you won’t call them either
I have called them stammered the teacher like a spastic
You haven’t Sir because if you did you would have to explain why your car was parked in my road all of those times until 4 am
The teacher sat down with his head in his hands and Paul laughed at him and left the classroom. Nothing ever happened to Paul I mean who could the teacher tell and this went on for a year until either he stopped seeing the girl or he found a new place to park.
Either way, one thing was for sure I was not going to be working for Marvel anytime soon and the more negative things were the worse my drawing became.
I’m a little sad I never picked it up again in the future but you never know what’s around the corner.It should be noted that I was never taught by Miss. Prishlack but I know others who were.
They said she was a strict old school teacher who didn’t take any shit but was a good teacher and a nice woman.You cant ask for more than that.