Letter: Teachers wasted students’ learning time

Letter: Teachers wasted students’ learning time


As a 14 year old, sitting at my cold school desk in the late 1950s in England, the teacher was doing his best to convince the kids that he knew best.

It was a geography lesson, and like all the other kids in the class I was looking at the big world map on the wall. The teacher was proudly telling us that the Sun never sets on the British Empire. He had a bamboo cane (that had other uses) and he was pointing to all the places in the world that were coloured in pink.

The colour pink meant that the country was under British rule. There were pink places in Africa, pink places in India, Australia and New Zealand, and of course, Canada, and a host of other countries that my memory has archived too deep to retrieve.

He proudly drummed into us that yes, the Sun never sets on the British Empire. But he omitted to mention that the British Empire was won and founded mostly on violence and brutality.

In another classroom we had religious instruction where the semi-insane teacher was trying to convince us that three blokes called Zadrack, Meeshac and Abendigo walked through a blazing furnace and came out the other end ready to go shopping; not a hair on their body was even singed.

The same teacher wholeheartedly believed that he actually knew someone that could walk on water, and he told us that the same chap once fed hundreds of people with a few fish.

In yet another post war lesson, the science teacher who was more believable than all the rest put together said that man used to be a monkey.Huh? We kids all looked at each other. The teacher said the monkeys turned into mankind, then a kid at the back of the class who was as bright as a candle without a wick said, “Sir, what happened to all the other monkeys? The bell rang before the follower of Darwin could answer.

When I left school in 1957 (age 15), my report card said, “Don Smithyman is slow but sure.”

The first job I applied for I didn’t get because the manager, after looking at my report card, said “We don’t need anyone that is slow.”

I am 77 now and semi-senile, living and loving in B.C., and I look back on the then curriculum and ponder the teachings and their absolute waste of students’ learning time.

Don Smithyman