It is October and I have started to get the winter blues. I know they are just the winter blues and that sunshine all day does a lot more for your vitamin D levels than being wrapped in a coat and shivering.
I have always taken a dip in the winter time, at school it was the run up to Christmas and plays and reports and the I’d just started a new school year. School years always seemed to start with a sense of ‘don’t fuck this one up too’. No one actually ever said that to me but it was the sense I had within myself.
School and me only go on every so often, the first school I spent most of my time under the clock – I was five.
I then moved school and ‘every thing was awesome’ the teachers were kind, we painted and wrote and people were fun.
Then we moved house, not very far but I was extremely unsettled and the teacher whose class I was in was nuts, also I had to wear and eye patch that just contributed to me being the wired one. Of course now I’d love that but when you are eight it is bad news.
I then went to a choir school and the pace out ran me, I’d loved to sing and I liked the comradeship that came, even though we were all yet to reach puberty.
My Mother was offered a job at the school and I went from being ‘slightly zaney’ to being ‘the teachers child’ I am sure I could have handled this better but as the academic requirements stepped up I fell behind.
After this I moved to a boarding school, it was a much kinder and smaller version of the one in ‘Dead Poets Society’ with Robin Williams. Everyone has horror stories of English Boarding Schools and apart from having my head kicked in a few times by drunk older boys and couple of clumsy misjudged fondles with people in my year it was fine. In fact my lasting memory of the place is good.
In fact if there is one place that I connect with now from my school days it is when I had my room at boarding school and a row of books by Orwell and Huxley, a row of tapes by Prince and David Bowie and a gigantic Blues Brothers poster of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.
As I have sat in therapy for the last two years this short period has opened up like a worm hole in a science fiction movie, it has led me to reading more, focusing on podcasting and writing and saying no to lots of shit that I thought everyone else thought I needed to do.
I certainly don’t mean that to sound selfish, it is in the spirit of sorting myself out so I am more useful to the people in my life.
Overall I was not sure why I was at school it seemed to be to pass exams and get a job and even then I was not sure what I wanted to do.
Funnily the two most consistent career choices in my head and heart were to be a Photographer or a Graphic Designer. Years later when instagram came along this reignited my photo passion, in fact it was easier, instagram enables me to take LOADS of photos everyday and learn on the job – so to speak. I say sometimes roll their eyes and say ‘aren’t you going to take a picture of this’ – snigger. I am delighted that they do.
When I was about 14 or 15 my session for ‘career choice’ came along, I filled in the magic quiz and the two top choices were retail or something in the army. Many of my extended family would have been delighted if I’d joined the army so I certainly was not going to do that.
Working in a shop filled me with horror, it would have to be Marks and Spencer or John Lewis or nothing and even then my heart sank in the same way it would have done if I’d been told David Bowie mimes all his own songs.
For a moment there I thought about doing what everyone wanted me to do. I could have found out what was needed to work in retail and then followed the path. If I had really known how to rebel I would have, if I had really known how to move to London and sleep in an attic and bash down the doors of the Magnum Photo Agency I would have.
I did not no how to do any of the last paragraph and I flunked my GCSE’s apart from English and Photography so instead of being catapulted to Six Form fame and a bigger room at boarding school I landed in Grays in Essex at a Sixth Form College.
All my fellow students went from being called Gerald, Sebastian, Giles and Duncan to being called Ricky, Rajesh, Stevie and Darren.
I still had no idea what to do, what I should be doing or how to do it. Everyone at my school was talking about going to Oxford or Cambridge and had Harvard or Yale as a back up and I was still not sure how to do GCSE’s let alone A-levels.
Year later I managed to creep in the back door to Roehampton University to read Education and English Literature, after a couple of terms my English Professor brought me a strong coffee and send me off in the direction of the Education Help centre.
I did two days worth of tests and came out ‘a hardcore dyslexic’ after a little bit of sinking in and feeling sorry for myself this became a super power. It also explained a lot of misery at school, it was not that I was not interested nor did I have evil teacher after evil teacher – a more than a few of them were extra patient and certainly inspiring.
This quote is from A.S. Neil – founder of Summer Hill School
I was further inspired to get my head out my arse after a phone conversation with Zoë Neill Readhead, Principal of Summerhill School that I wrote about.
I was interviewing her by phone and asked (in a worlds smallest violin voice) ‘I’m a dyslexic, how would you teach me?’
Without skipping a beat she answered ‘We don’t have dyslexia here, or ADHD everyone get one with it and finds their own path.’
Far from being harsh this made me want to time travel and go to school here, the path finding and democratic way of being educated in ‘alternative’ places like Summerhill and Steiner schools fits with my head, heart and soul more than career choice and GCSE options decided my some twat in Government who went to Eton or Harrow.
P.S. Books like ‘Share or Die’ by Malcolm Harris with Neal Gorenflo are a close connection with what we should be looking at in the relationship between our eduction and work life blend – click here.
Thanks for reading – see you tomorrow.
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