Schools aren’t like they used to be – thankfully
Last updated at 14:17, Friday, 24 September 2010
Given time over again, I might have studied metal detection, bought wellies and buzzed and bleeped a way into the rich list with a Roman helmet, a centurion’s chariot wheel and a stash of Spanish gold in my bag.
Schooldays, or parts of them anyway, could have been much more financially productive had they included treasure-hunting, which – as we’ve seen this week – can net a very tidy living... if you know where to look with your bleeping thing.
They do say hindsight adds unrealistic perspective to what might have been. But I’m not so sure. Options were both limited and limiting in my day. Much more so than all the opportunities presented now, to youngsters studying in a more enlightened age.
At my school, a girls’ grammar – and in many ways, a stuffy one at that – there’d have been a pandemic attack of the vapours, had metal detection or treasure-hunting been listed among potential career options. Anything other than the mundanely obvious and impeccably clean-cut was out of the question – career wise.
Our teachers considered any step beyond teaching dangerously radical. They were an insular lot.
Nursing was OK but only just. Librarians were acceptable because they might one day – if lucky – make it back to keep our dusty old school library in order.
But when I said newspaper journalism was for me, I was promptly informed I’d never be allowed into membership of the old girls’ association if I entered a business populated by men who drank too much, wore dirty clothes and invaded privacy.
The attractions, I have to say, were instantly irresistible. And true enough, I’ve met a lot of those men. Salt of the earth, first-rate party animals. God love ’em. I do.
Treasure-hunting though? Goodness, Miss Levitt’s hair would have turned dayglo white.
Our headmistress was big on Roman myths and legends, knew the layout of Pompeii better than that of our hockey field and taught us Latin – whether we wanted it or not.
But when it came to encouraging imaginatively for the future, getting past teaching and housewifery was our problem. Suffice to say, none of my year was ever going to invent a Popemobile with satnav or develop handbag-sized computers from which the weekly groceries could be ordered, while riding on a bus.
We had lessons in ironing men’s shirts, pressing creases into trousers and were taught – in what were curiously called home economics lessons – how to prepare an evening meal suitable for a man who had been working hard all day. And have it on the table the minute he came home.
Telling a man to iron his own crumpled shirts was something I learned all by myself. Likewise: “You know where the fridge is – I’ve been working hard all day” and “Your tea’s in the dog”.
Metal detection would have been a massive improvement on all that. The treasure hunter who unearthed that stunning Roman face mask and helmet down Penrith way – still comfortably anonymous, as I write – must have had a much more exciting education than my Latin verb conjugation and steam iron control.
And he or she is quite plainly the richer for it – or will be when the treasure is sold for at least £300,000... and hopefully brought home to Carlisle.
Schools take an awful lot of flak these days. Teachers get it in the neck all the time – sometimes deservedly, sometimes not. Most bitter criticism usually comes from the “not like it was in my day” brigade. They talk as though they had the best of it. Don’t you believe it.
I salute forward-thinking teachers, forward-looking schools, educational communities encouraging kids to reach beyond the known norm.
At times the plan might look a little pear-shaped, may even have an appearance similar to what used to be called chaos. But what used to be is long gone. It’s what might be that matters now.
I have the skill to detail the nutritional benefits of a Cornish pasty as a packed lunch for a tin miner. But oddly enough, I’ve yet to find a lucrative or even creative use for that talent.
On the other hand, had anyone had the foresight to enlighten me as to the exciting, romantic, potentially profitable advantages of hunting for treasure with a bleeping thing, in a field near Penrith, I might have been filling out a membership form for the Wheelwright Old Girls’ Association from my yacht on the Med, right now.
And therein lies the pain of the benefit of hindsight.
First published at 15:13, Friday, 17 September 2010
Published by http://www.cumberlandnews.co.uk