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Doing what you love?

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

I know, I know, it's hard to believe, lol, but I had a childhood pre-National Curriculum (UK) - a broad and interesting education without computers and unrestricted by assessment, but full of opportunity to find your own way. When the local butcher's son brought in some bull's eyes (literally!), the teachers dropped everything and those of us who had the inclination (no, not me - I was not born to be a medic!) got to dissect them and find out how the eye is formed. We were 10.

I remember country dancing lessons, swimming lessons in our school outdoor pool (very fancy!) and my favourite, gymnastics - not as a club after school, but as a lesson. We all worked towards BAGA (British Amateur Gymnastic Awards) in each session, and everyone committed to see how far we could go - I don't remember anyone not wanting to be there. It took discipline; it challenged us, but was also enjoyable. It was my first experience of being graded.

Art was integrated into each topic. I have a vivid memory of using a projector to draw my facial outline on paper so that I could then recreate myself as a Sioux Indian girl (and then being asked why I gave myself black hair, rather than my white blond??!! erm... aren't we Indian? I thought.) It was never a stand-alone subject in Primary school. We didn't, at that stage, learn techniques, we learnt by exploring and being guided as we went along. Topics were broad and exploratory in that way.


Photo by Sarah Brown on Unsplash

I was an average learner, I guess, but loved my art. I got into Grammar school in Kent when we moved (a different system to Devon at the time) purely by having an interview and a short test. Here, I did ok. I wasn't a 'top' student, destined for University, but I enjoyed my learning. I did art, I did needlework, I got involved in drama and loved our music lessons when a new young teacher let us play our vinyls!! I even managed to do so well I was considered for A levels. I took some, I failed them. I left education a little embarrassed, but with an income and instead rose through the retail ranks to assistant buyer nurtured by the most inspirational woman I knew - she saw something in me.