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Monday, August 16, 2010

Memories on Monday - Primary School Days

Primary School Days - North Perth Primary School

For the first six years of my school life I attended North Perth Primary School - the same school my Dad had gone to as a child - although funnily enough I didn't find that out until I was an adult - weird how things like that happen. Although come to think of it, Dad never much talked about himself as a child.

I loved going to school and I loved this school, it was divided into lower and upper primary - which way back then was a little forward thinking - common now but not so much then. I think part of that was because the original older buildings became the lower school when the new one was built.

Way back then each classroom had a fireplace for winter - and there was nothing better than coming in after playing and warming yourself in front of the fire. Learning to the sound of wood crackling while it burnt. The ceilings where high so the rooms never got too hot in summer and there were big high windows that opened at the top and the bottom with long ropes that hung down to open the top ones.

There were no whiteboards or even green chalkboards back then, just large blackboards at the front of the class and every one got a turn to be chalk and duster monitor. I used to love bashing the dusters together outside and watching the chalk dust floating off into the air. Had to remember not to inhale though.

Those were the days when we used to get small glass bottles of milk, with real cream on the top, delivered in crates and every child got to have one each day. My Mum used to occasionally spoil us and buy straws with strawberry or chocolate favouring inside, so as you drank your milk became favoured.

My Grade 3 Class - I am wearing my favourite dress and long white socks
Yep, that's me 2nd from the left in the front row.

When I first started writing in pen, it was with a dip pen, we didn't get biros until year 5 - doesn't that make me feel old. So from Year 4 on someone was the ink monitor and had to fill the little ink pots up each morning. There was something simple and elegant in learning to write with a dip pen - although smudging was always a problem, although we had a blotter we were supposed to use.

Life was simpler back then, no calculators or learning algebra - that was all left to high school. We learned to hand sew from Grade 1, not my favourite subject but I loved the embroidery when we got to that. We had story time right up to year 5, with our teachers taking the time once a week to read to us, just a chapter at a time from one of the old classics. I used to love to listen and now I love to read to my grandchildren (and to my children when they were younger) - making up voices for all the characters - turning the story into more than just words.

We didn't have a school canteen, but there was a 'tuck shop' over the road that when you got to upper primary you were allowed visit to buy your lunch, I used to love it when Mum would let us buy our lunch - it was a treat as it didn't happen often.

There were no big fences around our school like there are today keeping vandals out, just a waist height fence as a reminder not to run out on the road if you were chasing a ball.

But best of all we were allowed to be kids - there were no high expectations about where we were going as adults, we were allowed to learn at our pace, to just enjoy the experiences of school.

Impromptu photo of my Grade 6 Class, taken by our teacher
Can you pick me out in this photo?
Need a hint? I am standing.

I read about all this national testing and the pressures it puts on schools and students, I mean they are even talking about testing 4 year olds. I know we need to excel as a nation in the world, but not everyone can be the best, trying your hardest should be enough ... and letting small children just be children - I can't see what is wrong with that.


  1. You are so right about just letting small kids be kids for a while. I feel so sorry for these tiny little souls dragging themselves to school in the morning, lugging their heavy backpacks. Homework in grade one. for heavens sake. Now they want to send four year olds to junior kindergarten. They are just babies.
    We have every moment of our kids time organized and scrutinized. They have no time to be creative anymore. We are afraid to let them out of our sight. People even put in nanny cams so they can keep track of their baby sitter. Nursery schools go on line so parents can click in and watch their kids while they are at work.
    I wouldn't trade my childhood for what passes for it today for anything.

  2. What a lovely trip down memory lane, I love reading about school in the 'olden days' as my nan used to say, no offense! You are much younger than her though! Still, you did use a dip pen......

  3. Oh, I loved being taken back in time Kakka - thank you. Your words ring so true x

  4. You are so right, there is a lot to be said for allowing young children to just "be" for a while before it all starts in earnest.

    LOL you're so right - you only inhaled chalk dust once by accident I reckon! And yes, the reading by the teachers... I daren't ask, but don't they do that nowadays in primary school???

  5. Oh yes, I remember it well and you forgot to mention that your grandma often gave you and your brother a lift to school in a taxi (now that really was spoiling you).
    I think today children are not allowed to be children for long enough and I am sick and tired of hearing a certain politican harping on and on about the importance of education for all. Yes it is really important but not everyone is born equal and should be allowed to find their own level. I wish we could go back to the good old days when young people became apprentices (you had to pay to do that then and not have handouts to do it as is being promised now).
    I won't go on here but perhaps a good subject for my own blog which I've neglected of late.
    I am glad your memories of North Perth are so precious to you.



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