Sunday 21 April 2019


A parable of compassion for Easter 2019
Thursday two weeks past I gave the last two lectures in my Human Physiology course for the 2018-2019 year. I threw in a couple of bonus slides to help them handle a couple of wholly predictable questions on the exams in May. Which may have been largely wasted because only 8/18th of the class turned up. You may be sure that the students who needed most help were the most likely to be absent. That week I also gave and marked wrap-up Excel quizzes for my three remedial maths classes. My weakest link scored 38% on the Excel, having failed to answer 2/5 of the questions; but I inched him over the line because he tries hard but has been easily distracted from class in his first year away from home. A good friend of mine flunked his first year exams in Law at TCD but passed the September re-sits and went on to a stellar career of torts and litigation and retired on his money before the age of 50. There is a good chance the WeakestLink will settle down too.

I learned such constructive charity in school during my very expensive education in the 1960s. Back then if you had a lapse of discipline or learning you were put on a Satis Card. Actually, you were required to make your own Satis Card as a time-table with blank boxes for all the lessons for a week. At the end of each lesson, you had to present the card to the teacher who would either scribble his initials (implying satis) or write the much dreaded N.S. = non satis = not [good] enough in Latin. At the end to the week the card had to be presented to Chris Evers, the central authority, for scrutiny and, if necessary, punishment. I was often On Satis because I was drifty, easily distracted and rarely did the necessary prep and home work - especially in Latin and Music.

One week, eleven year old me neglected to get his Latin box signed. That omission, in and of itself, was enough to attract a N.S. which probably meant, at the very least, another week on The Card. I decided that the best way forward would be to forge Mr Latin's initials in his characteristic red ball-point pen. I used completely the wrong shade of red and the tangled loops of random lines bore zero relationship to the teacher's signature. At the end of the week, I presented my card to Mr Evers with a mixture of dread and fatalism. I knew that it was far worse [cad, bounder, bad-hat] to be indicted for forgery than caught with a blank on the card. The Boss looked at me, I looked at his shoes, time paused . . . and then he screwed up the card and binned it. He must have realised that nothing positive could come from an inquisition, let alone further punishment. Or perhaps he was in a hurry to nip down to the village for a pint and didn't want to delay his social life with a lecture to scatter-brain me. His inaction was notably successful if it was designed to win the heart and mind of one of the young chaps for whom he was responsible.

My career as a forger didn't really take off until I left school and started work.

1 comment:

  1. many many teachers are as understanding as this - we can't let 'systems' drum the heart out of education