(Gonna take) a sentimental journey

28 11 2007

If you ask any teacher now to compare their classrooms now to when they were in school, you’ll often hear something along the lines of, ‘we would have never got away with what kids do now’.  I am one of those teachers.

I was not a perfect student.  Almost every time we had to read out loud in class, I was reprimanded for not paying attention.  In fact, I was always pages ahead, in my own little world. By secondary school I had mastered the art of reading ahead while staying tuned in with the class.  But there’s one event  has stayed with me for the past 25 years.

I grew up in small town (pop. 2000 ? ) and my parents owned a business in the main street.  As the youngest child, I would watch my siblings go off to school, and while my parents worked in the shop, I skipped over the road to the library.  It was a magnificent 1800’s bluestone library, all silent and dimly lit and quite mysterious to me.  I would sit on the floor in a hidden corner, start at the left, and work my way across each shelf of children’s books. 

In primary school we had library once a week.  Mrs B would often let me read the new books first, and listen to what I thought of them. How wonderful she was.  I remember the first book I didn’t like, and being scared to tell her I didn’t finish it.  Something about sugar plum fairies or rain, or both. Of course, being the sensible libarian that she was, it was okay for me to not finish a book.

In 1983 I began to travel to the next town to attend secondary school.  It had a spacious, bright library with hundreds of books I had never read. It was bliss. I started (at the left) with Joan Aiken’s The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (oh, what an adventure!).  I was also in my Nancy Drew phase, so they came next.  So many new mysteries for me to solve!  That’s when the trouble began.

A few weeks into Year 7, I was in trouble.  I was reading TOO MUCH NANCY DREW! I didn’t even know I could get in strife for such a thing.  I knew how long my skirt had to be (touching the ground when kneeling), I knew which hallways in the convent were out of bounds to students (which didn’t stop us sneaking around!) but at no time had I been informed that there were Nancy Drew restrictions in place. Not only was I given a stern talking to, I was banned from borrowing any more adventures of Nancy, George, and Bess.

The librarian (TL?) who loomed over me that day delivering that absurd decree remained in charge of the library until I completed my HSC.  While I never stopped reading (except I never read another Nancy Drew), that particular library never became a welcome place for me. 

So when I say that kids these days get away with so much more than we did, I hope that somewhere out there, there’s a 12 year old girl who is allowed to read as many Nancy Drew mysteries as she likes.

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2 responses

28 11 2007
hubinfo

A quick search has revealed that the first book I did not finish was “The Plum Rain Scroll” by Ruth Manley. It was named Book of the Year by the Children’s Book Council of Australia in 1979, so it couldn’t have been that bad.

15 02 2009
Housekeeping, and some updates « The Hub

[…] Sentimental journey – I have received notice of my twenty year high school reunion in October.  I look forward to checking out the library and report on how much it has changed in the past two decades.  She couldn’t STILL be there, could she? […]

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