Do You Ever Wish You Were Back at School?
In Primary School, education became my safe place and refuge away from home, in secondary school I dreaded lessons where we would have to choose ‘pairs’ and in University I found myself, and reveled in my quirky and unique point of view. For me at different periods in my life I found myself either loathing or loving school, as I was bullied, tormented and made fun of at secondary school for daring to be different. Yet in Primary school education became my solace from an abusive home and at university I found that people didn’t care that I didn’t fit the status quo nor were they particularly bothered about the way I dressed or the people I chose to call my friends. In many ways I miss my school days, because although they were often riddled with anxiety and depression, at times life was simpler back then, not having to worry about how I would find money to put food on the table or rack my brain for creative ways of making buck to pay my rent that month. I was free from financial responsibilities-or at least until I was 16 and started working in my first part-time job- and was able to spend my money on meeting friends, clothes and anything else that made me happy at the time.
The saying goes that school days are the best days of your life and depending on your own experiences of school, they might be right. After all if you listen to adults they will warble on about how ‘you have little to no responsibility in way of paying any rent or a mortgage, dinner waiting for you on the table when you come down from your bedroom and long summers with your besties’. Except that is a massive generalization, because in reality most teens and children have to deal with rampant mental health issues like anxiety and depression, deal with bullying, as well as stress over exams, coursework and making new friends. So naturally you might feel slightly patronized by an adult telling you that ‘school days’ are free from responsibilities, when you have coursework the size of the Thames, waiting stacked in your bedroom. But if there is one thing that they are right about is that as an adult you do have more financial responsibilities than you did as a child, regardless of anything else that may have been going on at home, because as you know I didn’t have a typical school child’s ‘upbringing’.Yep, those days are gone. Now you have a job and a home to keep, dinners that don’t cook themselves and summer days in the office rather than the beach. That’s called adulting, kids, it’s not fun. Well, it is, just not in the same kind of fun you were used to.
Would You Want to go back to School?
Memories are a funny thing; often our mind is not the most reliable narrator and can either ‘gloss over the negatives’ and paint our past through rose coloured lens or can be the complete opposite, focusing on the downs as opposed to the ‘ups’. Which is why, in my opinion, many adults look back on their ‘school days’ fondly because in their eyes it was a ‘simpler time’ as they did not have to pay the rent, would have dinner cooked for them and were free to ‘play with their friends’. In their mind, their biggest worry at school was bagging their favourite spot on the equipment in the school playground before anyone else. Now, at least according to them their worries are a little more mundane with bills piling up left, right and centre. Oh, and it’s granddad’s 80th birthday, so you need to buy him an extra special present – better add that to the budget. You didn’t actually want to go out for Friday night drinks, did you?As much as our school days were deemed to be responsibility-free, they weren’t half stressful, were they? The pressures of keeping up with the latest trends in the playground, worrying about how your peers perceived you (because, at that age, your reputation is all that you have) and, of course, those dreaded looming exams. Not to mention learning to defend yourself against horrible bullies, being worried about fitting in and of course wishing that you were part of the ‘popular gang’.
It can be easy to forget the pressures of fitting in at school and achieving the grades we needed to get to where we wanted to go in life. Perhaps when we say we’d like to go back, we mean going back with all that we know now, because let’s face it, my time in the education system was tumultuous. After all I loved learning, I loved to study and I loved being passionate about the subjects that I adored, but what I definitely do not miss is the bullies, the abusers and the tormentors who were waiting in the shadows for me to trip up and fall, and I know I am not the only one.
Kids These Days
They don’t know how easy they have it? At least that’s what my friends parents would say, glossing over how much stress we would incur from such a young age and how we were conditioned to have our heads in textbooks from as early as six years old. They didn’t take into account how we would have to learn to balance ‘play’ and work so effectively, nor did they stop to think how some children like myself would go through childhood trauma at such a young age. But if there is one thing that they are right about is how we use technology to define our lives today, and to an extent began to as a child. I was a 90’s baby and a noughties kid, so back in the day, we were over the moon with our Nokia 3310s playing Snake in the school playground in between games of tag and stuck in the mud. We would fashion scooby bracelets and ping ‘shag bands’ in various shades of neon, while watching our ‘Tamagotchis’ like proud mothers, as we watched our pets grow. Now, it’s not uncommon to find children still single-figures-old walking around with a brand new iPhone, and I am 25 and still don’t have an I-Phone! Social media and technology is revolutionary, and must be for children who have new ways to stay in contact with their friends, when before we would just knock on our friends door and ask if they would come out to play.
It’s true that instead of running around outside with friends, children are now much more likely to be active in the group Whatsapp chat, with children as young as six having mobile phones. Is it up to the parents to encourage kids to run around and make use of playground equipment as opposed to being glued to the phone for an average of more than four hours a day? Or is this something that school and teachers should be doing more to tackle? But how can we as adults talk, when we ourselves might not have had the same access to technology as children but are now using it to shape how we socialize, run businesses and de-stress, running up just as much screen time as children, if not more? Still, that is a post for another day.
More Knowledgeable Schools
Few people know this but when I was younger I not only had Speech and Language therapy but I was also part of the SEN unit, meaning that I would have an aide or assistant throughout primary and secondary school because while I was ‘intelligent’, childhood trauma had made me find it hard to understand things, Maths in particular being my kryptonite. I hated having an aide in secondary school because I didn’t like being singled out and was worried that people would think I was not smart, but having your brain ‘wired differently’ does not make you dumb and in fact while I had to work twice as hard as others, I also got top grades in most subjects. While the SEN unit had to fight to get me the ‘help and support’ (as by 13 it was clear I no longer needed assistance), I had it until I was 16 and finished my GCSES, which in many ways helped me out a lot. And while the school I was at had great facilities for SEN and learning difficulties, Schools, these days, are undoubtedly far better equipped to manage students with specific needs, whether that is learning support, safeguarding or offering additional assistance. The education that teachers and governors receive in relation to safeguarding practice and any SEN (Special Educational Needs) pupils is far better than it was just 10,15 or 20 years ago.
This means that students, now, receive much better support than when we may have had ourselves at school. Where previous students may have struggled, in today’s schools, they may have found they had a much better opportunity to learn and flourish, as they would be give the support they need to learn. From wishing that we were back at school to escape money worries to yearning for a simpler time, it’s easy to see why many adults still wish that they were at school, instead of ploughing their way through a mountain of debt. You may still long for the days that all you had to do was remember your homework (or at least come up with a passable excuse as to why you didn’t), but adulthood isn’t all bad. Yes, there are many, many more responsibilities but with that also comes the freedom that we so badly craved in our formative years. Now, we don’t need to beg our parents to go away for the weekend – we answer to no one!Well, almost no one – those bills still need paying. So while some might crave a return to a simpler time, I sure as hell prefer being an adult, even with the financial responsibilities. After all I can go out when I want, can be myself without people taking the piss and best of all have the freedom to be wholly and completely me.
Do You Still Wish That You Were Back At School?
Please note this is a collaborative post