My faulty start to academic education at Fernlea School was not helpful. I had one teacher there in 1969 for the last half of that year who inspired me to study. Who gave me the confidence that I can learn. That being able to read aloud in class was not the pinnacle of education as I’d been led to believe. That I can stutter my way though any book and still retain the relevant information and impart it. I was not stupid.
Yes it takes more effort, yes I’m more likely to get it wrong, yes there’s nothing stopping me from going back and having another go. Having a messy test paper is sign I’m thinking about what I’ve said, and rethought it. It’s not the crossed out answers I get marked on, but the visible answers.
Rhoda ‘Blossom’ Forde. I know her name has an ‘e’ on the end as there was a big discussion in our class about whether Ford Motors was named after a real person, or if it was a trade name? The consensus of the class was that “Ford” was a trade name and the correct spelling was “Forde.” If I recall correctly it was Mrs Forde herself who gave us this tid bit of information. Oh well, nobody can be right all the time! 🙂
I had to call her ‘Blossom’ outside school and ‘Mrs Forde’ inside school. Yes there were plenty of mistakes by me both inside and outside school. If only she just had 1 name like most people! When I thought she made a mistake inside school sometimes I’d shout out her nick name, “Blossom that’s not right!” then wish I could find a rock to hide under. The same sensation when you call your teacher “mum” or “dad” by accident. I couldn’t understand why we had contact after school, we never did any school work, we just spent time together, like she was an adopted grandmother. Maybe she wasn’t giving me a break, but giving my mother a break?
I think there was a conspiracy. I’d shown signs of greater potential, especially when I was made to read aloud to the Principal, (who just happened to be Blossom’s husband), that I had no problems reading. It was just easy there, but not easy in class. It was my CHOICE by the way, yes I deliberately chose to be nervous and anxious in class, and serene in that office. Not bad for an 9, 10, & 11 year old the years I spent proving I can read. The choices I made that I never knew about were just amazing.
My sister was advanced a year. She is one year older than me and two classes ahead of me. When I was 9 and a bit, I was put in her class, and she did not approve. It made no difference though, I had nothing to do with her in class, I was placed right in front of the teacher’s desk and given specific work to do for my year. The only time I saw my class mates was at Play and Lunch times, and I was allowed to do nothing but learn. A stroke of genius really, nobody ever disturbed me. It’d be pretty risky being right in front of the teachers desk, who would take the challenge? Nobody, was the answer.
When it first happened I was elated. I side stepped everybody and went straight to the top! When reality set in it wasn’t quite so exciting. There were aspects of that class though where it was impossible to exclude me, like general discussion, I was expected to take part, and relished it. That teacher’s name was Mr Brough, he had a brother, his name a was Mr Brough too, oh yes you can see my genius shining through! 😀 Mr Brough had a brother who was his twin, and they were both teachers, and when I went to Parkway Intermediate, guess who my first teacher was, Mr Brough #2.
I’d still drift off into my imagination though, and Mr Brough would almost whisper to me, ‘C’mon Graeme concentrate, c’mon, c’mon, you can do it’ he was a great teacher. I liked Mr Brough. He was music teacher like his brother. Are identical twins always so identical?
Problems came back in my the first half of my last year at Fernlea School, 1969. That year Mr Brough went to Wainuiomata College, as did my sister. I was lost. I enjoyed one part of one year with every expectation that it would continue, but it did not. There wasn’t any specific teacher for that year, there was just lots of fill ins, it was all such a disaster. We even had Mr Forde from time to time, filing in. When you’re sat in front of a guy who’s beaten the crap out of you so many times, it’s a bit difficult trusting him, or knowing if I can answer. He always made me nervous, but when I read, I forgot him. The benefits of having a poor short term memory I guess?
Now tell me there was no conspiracy. Mr Brough #2 assigned me a seat in the class, guess where? Everybody else got to choose where they sat, but I was assigned a seat, right at the front, and right in front of him, glaring at me! This was in 1970. In the booklet “Understanding Klinefelter’s syndrome: a guide for XXY males and their families” you can read a section on how to teach XXY boys with Learning Difficulties, and much of what I’ve described here is what it says, and that booklet was published in 1993.
In my report from 1970, by Mr Brough #2, he mentions how I can be “very dreamy.” Are not all boys in puberty? Yes puberty had started, the year before, when I was 11. That is not a late or delayed puberty, that is perfectly on time.
I suppose Mr Forde represented the old style of education, and Mrs Forde and the Brough brothers the new. The new worked. No need to say any more really.
Mr Heron was a ‘fill in’ for this photograph, to make it look like we had an official teacher assigned for this class, but he was never our teacher that year.
Mrs Rhoda ‘Blossom’ Forde is standing behind me.
This is Mr Brough #1 and since he’s an identical twin you know what his brother looked like in 1968 when this photograph was taken. His first name is Murray.
My report from 1970 by Mr Lindsey Brough.