The schools have gone back today. I don't have children so this doesn't directly effect me, but I have friends with children, some of whom are starting school for the first time, and some of whom are starting secondary school for the first time. This has got me thinking about my own days at school, which quite frankly were bloody awful. Some of primary school was okay, but I hated every second of secondary school until I went to sixth form at a different school.
As everyone does, I remember the day I got my GCSE results, which was somewhat hampered by the fact that the school was burnt down the previous week, so although I'd sent an envelope for my results to be sent to my house, they weren't there when I came home for the day from my holiday in the Lake District with my father. Oh, and because I was away I hadn't heard about the school's encounter with an arsonist. This meant that I had to get my results over the phone, but I was too nervous to phone up myself so my father called on my behalf. I didn't do very well. My results weren't awful, but they didn't reflect my capabilities, and they weren't what I'd been expecting. Having said that, I've never performed well in exams, which has in the past, in part been down to the fact that I didn't know how to revise and nerves always got the better of me (with my fast-approaching exam for my OU course I'm hoping that I've overcome both of these limitations). At the time of my GCSE results I was very disappointed, and I know that my parents - particularly my father - were too.
I've thought about this in recent years, more so since starting my Open University studies. I've also talked about it with my mother on several occasions, and have realised that I actually didn't do too badly considering my health. I've always had asthma - my first attack was at three months old apparantly - and as I've got older it's gradually become worse and worse so that it's now at its present level of rubbishness. Prior to my GCSE years my asthma was bad and was already on the decline, although it was still managable, but I had bronchitis and pneumonia on several occasions throughout my GCSE years, so that during those two years I ended up having at least six months off school. This is a huge amount at any time, but particularly so during important years at school and I missed an awful lot of important teaching so found myself busking my way through my GCSEs a lot of the time. I turned out not to be so good at academic busking.
Perhaps I'm now enjoying the hard work of my studies with the Open University so much, because although it's a struggle with my health, I am succeeding. I am finally reaching my potential and I'm proud of myself. I know it's not fashionable to say such things, but I am proud of myself. My lungs are rubbish, I'm constantly struggling to breathe, I'm continually in and out of hospital, but all the same I've been getting consistent firsts for my essays and for my last course. Okay, so this won't necessarily continue, and I still have this forth-coming exam to get through, but so far I think I have reason to be pleased with myself.
I suppose this shows how things can change for the better, even when other things are changing for the worst. My lungs and my asthma continue to go downhill, but with that my determination has increased - determinationi to live, determination to make the most of life, determination to succeed and do what I can when I can. I guess though, that I wish I'd managed to do some of this much earlier in life, and I hope that those starting news schools today manage to reach their potential while they're at school, and enjoy their days at school, unlike me ... until now.