Monday, 6 March 2017


Nah, she wasn't this hot - almost

Her name was Miss Dale, and she was seriously sexy.  Small, blonde (update: nope - redhead actually, the ol' memory was playing tricks), early 20s, she usually wore a blue denim mini-skirt and also indulged in some serious sadism that too many teachers of the period were prone to.  She had a nasty habit of punching your arm several times to emphasise whatever point she was making, and I certainly wasn't the only kid who suffered from a bruised upper limb in her class.  Where did such rage come from?

One day, she decided to test our spelling by reading out words to the class, so that we could then write them in our jotters to be marked by her diminutive, angry self.  One of the words she uttered was 'yawn', which, due to my familiarity with the Shakespearean-style of speech in MARVEL's THOR, I took to be 'yon' and thus wrote it in my jotter accordingly.  She then collected our efforts and sat at her desk to evaluate them, while we busied ourselves with something else.

After a while, she called me out to her desk and berated me for seemingly misspelling the word, then belted me with the tawse - solely for what she considered my lack of spelling ability, not because I was cheeky or anything.  50-odd years later, I now know just what an utterly inept teacher she was not to have considered the possibility that I'd been thinking of another, perfectly legitimate, phonetically similar word to the one she'd had in mind.

Her response should surely have been:  "There are two words pronounced that way, define the one you mean."  Then it would've been a simple case of me explaining exactly what word I'd had in mind, and her then asking me to spell the other, the one she was looking for.  The fact was, I'd spelt the word properly, it was just a different word to the one she'd been thinking of.  And yet that glaringly obvious possibility never occurred to her.  What a thicko.

I did learn a few valuable lessons that day though.  Firstly, that teachers weren't always right;  secondly, that Miss Dale, though sexy, was a bitch - and thirdly, there's no way clearly hormonal people should ever be tasked with imparting knowledge to any group of children, when their main method of teaching seems to consist of punching and belting them until they 'learn' things.

This was primary school, mind, so we're not talking about teachers having to deal with surly and unruly teenagers - we're talking children of only 8 or 9 years old. What the hell were educationalists thinking of back then?  As I've said before, kids today don't have a clue about just how lucky they are compared to ourselves.

As for Miss Dale?  I have absolutely no recollection of ever seeing her again after I left primary.  Maybe she left before I did.  However, it would be nice if she learned how to manage her anger issues and went on to become, at the very least, a competent (and kinder) teacher.  The alternative simply doesn't bear thinking about.


Anonymous said...

In my first year of junior school (aged 7-8) I had a teacher called Mr. Sellwood who was really, really nice. At the end of each day he'd sit on a stool in front of the class and read to us from "The Hobbit" - about 20 minutes a day till the book was finished. All these years later The Hobbit and Bilbo Baggins still makes me think of Mr. Sellwood and his daily readings. He also held drawing competitions and I won two of them - my prizes were a little plastic 1974 calendar (about the size of a credit card) and a Ladybird book about Admiral Nelson. In my last year of junior school I had a teacher called Mr. Jones (no relation) who was also very nice but he was a religious fundamentalist and he got angry if he thought you were showing disrespect to Jesus or God. At Christmas 1976 we were making Christmas cards and he said we mustn't put "Merry Xmas" on them because X stood for unknown. And we were watching one of those "For Schools" programmes about evolution and he said "You don't have to believe that, you know". He was also my sister's teacher a couple of years later and she told me he dragged a boy into the toilets and literally washed his mouth out with soap for swearing ! Anyway, he was mostly very nice and well into my teens I used to see him around town and he always stopped to speak to me.

Kid said...

Actually, Mr. Jones was wrong, CJ. 'X' indicates the Greek for 'Chi', which is short for the Greek word for 'Christ'. See? Just as I said, teachers aren't always right. Nice anecdote 'though. Are both of them dead now, or still gadding about on their zimmer frames?

Anonymous said...

I think they are both probably dead by now - Mr. Sellwood (who also owned a farm) must have been in his late fifties and that was back in 1973-4. Mr. Jones was bald and got called "Pledge-head" (after the furniture polish) behind his back (not by me though) - I assume he was about 50 in 1976. It was in Mr. Sellwood's class that I first heard my recorded voice when he taped all our voices one day and played them back to us - I didn't like my own voice ! By the way, I always thought the X in Xmas stood for the crucifix or something - you've educated me, Kid !

Kid said...

I don't think anyone likes their own voice when they first hear a recording of it played back to them, CJ. I know I didn't. In fact, I didn't think it sounded anything like me, which I believe is the common reaction of most people on first hearing the sound of their recorded voice. Glad to hear that I've educated you - it's just a shame that Mr. Jones didn't in the case of the Christmas 'X'. After all, it was his job.

TC said...

Today, most teachers would never physically touch a student under any circumstances. They would have some ambulance-chasing lawyer filing a suit against the school system. The pendulum has swung from one extreme to another.

I never had a teacher actually hit me. Once, in middle school, while waiting in line, two other students were shoving each other (not fighting, just clowning around), and one stumbled and accidentally knocked me down. The teacher came over and waved a ruler in my face, and threatened to send me to the principal's office. Sometimes I think I should have grabbed the ruler and shoved it up his @$$, and to h-ll with the consequences.

There was a sociology teacher in my senior year at high school who was a hot blonde. While a college student, she had worked as a Playboy bunny. Yeah, I know it sounds like the kind of rumor you hear in the boys' locker room, but it's literally true. She had considered continuing to work at the Playboy Club part-time after she became a teacher, but the city had a rule against its employees moonlighting in places where alcoholic beverages were served.

She never hit anybody, AFAIK, although a lot of the boys probably fantasized about it. "Sticks and stones may break my bones...but whips and chains excite me."

I don't remember ever mistaking one word for another in a spelling test. As I recall, the teacher or instructor would say the word, then use it in a sentence for context. Which is important with homonyms and homophones. "I had a steak for dinner." "To kill a vampire, drive a stake through his heart." "X-rays cannot penetrate lead." "The lieutenant led his platoon on the mission."

Kid said...

Quite apart from that, TC, if a teacher laid a hand on a pupil today, they'd get charged with assault. Miss Dale didn't put any of the words she read out into any sort of context, she merely ran through a list. My mind was clearly travelling on a different track, immersed as I was in Stan Lee's dialogue for Thor at the time, otherwise the most obvious version of the word ('yawn') would've been the first one I'd have thought of. However, when I heard it, I simply thought of 'yon', as in "Yon dark figure intrigues me." (No, that's not an actual quote, I just made it up as an example.) Thing is, it seems that, for a teacher, Miss Dale apparently had a more limited vocabulary than I did for it not to have occurred to her that I'd actually used a legitimate (if archaic) word. Unfortunately, today's educators have reaped what was sown by teachers like Miss Dale and Mr. Halliburton back then. Maybe that pendulum will eventually shift to the middle one day in the not too distant future, and balanced common sense will have a chance to reign in our schools. Let's hope so.

Phil S said...

I recall one young lady I met in college. Similarly while attractive once you knew her you realized her personality rhymed with witch. It's so sad when the inside is rotten.

Kid said...

Yeah, it's nice when you can get a good balance - nice looks, and a nice person.

John Pitt said...

I received a slap on my very first day at school and I hadn't even been naughty! My first teacher was an elderly lady, called Mrs. Aitken and, come the end of the day, I couldn't reach my coat, so I climbed up on the bench, to try and stretch up and reach it, only to feel a sharp sting on the back of my calves! "NO climbing!", she snapped! I made a mental note to tell my Mum, which I did outside the gate.
"Teachers are allowed to smack you, just like parents," she explained to me.
These were the times that we lived in!

Kid said...

Well, there's smacking and then there's punching, JP, but I'd still say your teacher was wrong. She could have told you not to climb without slapping you for it.