If high school was the happiest time of my life, I'd be dead by now.
fortunately, it wasn't. in fact, the year I was at high school was among the unhappiest I've had.
I only had one year of high school, thank God. I left at the end of year 7 (shortly before turning 13), because I loathed the place, and mum thought both my education and my sanity would be better served by “home-schooling”.
I put “home schooling” in inverted commas because we mostly just made up a curriculum and then I’d get on with reading all the fiction, history, travel, pop science, etc, that I wanted to anyway. I also was a volunteer at a child care centre, a women’s refuge, and as a Lifeline telephone counsellor, was a student then a tutor at the local Youth Theatre, and sat in on college classes (the same college where my mum worked, and where I later did my first degree).
this post started life as a Facebook questionnaire Notes thingy, so it's in Q & A form, and includes questions I probably wouldn't have thought to ask myself, and Americanisms, which I'll leave as they are cos it'd be a bit rude to change them, given I'm not even crediting the original (unknown to me) writer of the quiz.
So a) there’s not much material from one year (although it seemed an eternity of pain at the time), and b) it’s a bit traumatic remembering all that shit. So I’ve included some stuff from after I left high school, but while I was still in my early-to-mid teens.
1. What stereotype would you characterize yourself in high school? (Nerd, Jock, Artsy, Stoner etc)
nerd, then artsy nerd.
2. Who was your fave teacher and why?
my maths teacher (can’t remember his name), cos I liked maths and he gave me extra work when I’d finished stuff early. At college, when I was 14 or so, one of the English lecturers with whom I did Women in Lit – heaps of fun!
3.What was your worst high school moment?
too many to choose:
being asked on my first day if I was a virgin (I should bloody well hope so! I was 11 going on 12);
being pushed down a flight of stairs;
being told by an English teacher (who I’d previously respected) that my response to a poem was ‘wrong’;
being asked by a guy (who I wasn’t interested in, but still) if I’d ‘go with’ him (i.e. be his gf), then before I answered, he and his mates all laughed and said ‘sucked in’.
4.What was your best high school moment?
- HS: getting home at the end of each day.
- Best college-during-my-early-teens moment: talking about the Romantic poets (Shelley, Byron, Clare, Keats), and about Virginia Woolf, in a class of people who were actually interested and had read them.
5. What music most reminds you of high school?
ABBA might, but fortunately I have much more positive associations with ABBA now. Mamma Mia, here I go again - lovely Meryl Streep, and dancing to Dancing Queen at Conflux 2 - we had a great DJ at the masquerade ball!
6. What class would you like to take again if you had the chance?
none! Never want to go to a high school again, unless –
if I was the teacher, and the kids actually wanted to be there, then English, history, civics, drama – anything where I could rabbit on a bit, get them to do fun and challenging stuff and hopefully inspire them.
I would like to do high-school level maths and science, cos I missed most of that, but not at an actual high-school.
7. Who did you hang out with most in high school?
my sister, except we weren’t s’posed to talk to each other because year 7s and year 10s were s’posed to be in different parts of the playground. Stupid bureaucracy.
8. What is something you miss the most about high school?
absolutely nothing. Say it again – school – what is it good for? Huh! Absolutely nothing.
9. What do you miss the least?
Being bullied, rushing from one horrible stupid class to another carrying tons of heavy books (we didn’t have lockers - are there lockers in Australian high schools now?).
10. Who did you date or have a crush on?
- no one at school. Immature dickheads, most of them.
- at college while in early teens – lots of people, probably the earliest was a comms student called Jen (I think) who was in They Shoot Horses Don’t They? (or maybe she did lighting – I forget the details, just that I thought she was so cool, and wished I had the courage to talk with her)
11. What is something really funny that happened?
more eye-rollingly stupid, but I got into an argument with my science teacher about the ethics of Australia mining uranium and selling it to other countries, e.g France, who then used it in nuclear weapons that they tested, above ground, in the Pacific. My science teacher said that if we didn’t sell it to the French, another country would. I said that by that reasoning, it would be okay for him to sell me heroin because if he didn’t someone else would. His only answer was ‘but you’re not a heroin addict’, then ‘get back to work on identifying the sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks’. Blah.
Lots of funny things happened at college-before-I-enrolled. Can I remember a good anecdote? Sorry, nothing specific.
12. Did you ever get in trouble in high school?
ha! I was so 'good', until the last month of the last term, when I was so fed up, and after mostly getting As I failed a test – shock! horror! My form teacher (the science teacher, poor fool) had a Serious Talk with me. I just glowered at him.
13. What were you really into back then?
writing angst-filled poems, reading and watching SF and detective fiction, playing in the garden with our cats.
14. Where did you hang out?
- during HS: during the school day, wherever I hoped no one would find me; in my bedroom (James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Buster Keaton and Elvis posters on the wall) while at home.
- during college-in-early-teens: in the college Union eating hot chips, at Youth Theatre, in the community radio’s student broadcasting studio…
15. What was your proudest accomplishment?
- HS: surviving
- in-mid-teens: getting a job as drama tutor; training as a Lifeline counsellor
16. If you could go back and change something, what would it be?
it’d be great to go back and tell myself “it will get better”, and to not internalise all the shit that the bullies told me
17. Who influenced you most?
- at HS: the bullies, probably
- at c-in-mid-ts: women at the refuge – workers and residents; English lecturers at college (before I enrolled, and a History lecturer afterwards); drama tutors at youth theatre; other volunteers at Lifeline (most of whom were practising Christians, and I was then an atheist).
18. What were some of your fave TV shows from that era?
Blake’s 7, Starksy & Hutch, Dr Who (depending on which Doctor), Countdown, Welcome Back Kotter
19. Fave movies?
Star Wars, Ordinary People, CE3K (Close Encounters), Gallipoli, Scanners, Mad Max 2, Gregory’s Girl
20. Is there anything you would like to say that you never had the chance to say to someone?
- to all the bullies: I hope you’ve grown up to be decent people
- to the lecturers at college-in-my-mid-teens: thanks for restoring my faith in adults and in formal education
- to my mum: thank you!
- to my sister: we made it out alive!
travelling in Europe with my older sister when we were in our teens was way better education than being at high school.