This didn’t stop us boys from being boys, mind you. We were about as
naughty as we dared to be and often ended our playtime in the library
line-up where the headmaster (principal) had us hold out a hand while he
walked along the line and whacked each hand with the cane end of a
This made your hand swell up so that you couldn’t
hold a pencil for a while. Serious misdemeanors meant two “cuts,” one
on each hand and the ultimate punishment was “six of the best.” As far
as I can remember, that only happened in high school where we got caned
on the bum, and I had the distinction, in grade nine, of holding the
record number of punishments (canings) for that year.
So I hated
school. But I did like some things there, including some of the
teachers. I do remember, as little 5 to 6 year old boys, one of our
tricks was to sit on the mat at story time and see if we could see up
the teacher’s dress! I think teachers underestimate the sexuality of
I loved learning too, and became quite good at the
system, coming in the top 2 to 5 of the class, usually after my
childhood sweetheart, Cynthia. I was conditioned to think this was a
But I hated that others weren’t so successful. My
friend Barry always put himself down, calling himself the dumb one.
Today he has his own business and owns a fair bit of what was our family farm.
If I was
left to choose my own learning I’d have chosen, at various stages,
trains, firemen, sailing ships and pirates, guns and cannons, The Famous
Five, horses, Egypt, Aborigines and archaeology.
More and more,
as I progressed through school I learned cynicism and sarcasm. There
was a misfit between what I had to learn and what I considered relevant
At the same time I was swinging between going along with the system – success – and hating it – cynicism.
The misfit first came to a head in my last year of high school – grade 12 at college these days.
The boys’ school I attended for four years amalgamated with its sister school, becoming co-educational in 1972. Girls!
had to try this girlfriend experience. By late that year my friends
and I published the school’s first underground newspaper, titled “IF.”
thought it was so outrageous, but, on reading it recently, I was more
embarrassed by how little we had to say. After more than 12 years of
schooling we were too much a part of the system to really see its
effects on us.
That's when my unschooling began, and it'll never cease!