History lesson

MY granddaughter who is a teacher in Victoria invited me, aged 82, to have a video hook up with her 23 Grade 2 students to talk about my school days in England.

After the introductions, the questions came thick and fast.

Did you write with a feather?

No, we had a pen with a nib, there was an ink well on my desk and you dipped the pen in the ink.

I had to explain what ink was.

Were you caned at school? Yes, and often.

Who caned you? My teacher and sometimes the headmaster who caned you in front of the entire school.

Did you cry? Boys did not cry.

Did girls cry? It was a boys-only school.

What was in the school grounds? There was a slide, swings, a vegetable garden and an air raid shelter.

I had to explain that there was a war on.

How did you get to school? We walked to school and often in the winter in England we had to clear a path in the snow to get to school.

Did your dad not have a car? No, no family in the class had a car.

What did you watch on TV? There was no TV.

Did the school have a tuck shop? No, as there was a war on we had school dinners and sweets were rationed.

They were quite sad that there were very few sweets

After school what did you do? We played outside until it became dark and then we went to bed.

Did you have your own bedroom?

No, we shared one bedroom and the toilet was outside.

The students were amazed that on holidays and weekends we would go into the countryside picking blackberries, collecting birds’ eggs and even walking 10 kilometres to visit our grandparents.

I have fond memories of my school days, though it left me with the question of what these children will say to their grandchildren in 75 years’ time.

BERNIE WHITWORTH,

Safety Bay.