When I was fifteen and in the fifth form, I wanted to do art as one of my subjects for School Certificate. Dad said no one gets a job as an artist and putting his foot down, said I’d have to do Maths. Actually, rather than putting his foot down, he banged his fist on the table.
I had told Dad that I was useless at Maths and good at art, but when Dad’s fist hit the table, that was that! So, I did Maths – and failed. I got 45% and one had to get 50% to pass. See Dad? I told you I was no good. At least he couldn’t totally blame me and thank goodness, he didn’t.
French was another subject I had to do. Mum was keener than Dad on this although they were both in agreement. My school peers and I had a terrible French teacher and the whole class failed French for School C. I think I got 48% for that. The teacher didn’t come back to our school the next year, but that was too late for us fifth formers who had sat the subject with no success.
Fortunately, I’d done well in my other subjects particularly English, and so I got enough marks to get into the sixth form. For years, I regretted not being able to do art for School C and felt a bit cross with Dad.
I knew I could have passed it and I had wanted to go to the Elam School of Art in Christchurch when I left school. That never happened of course, and I drifted into Teachers’ College instead. As for Dad, well, I knew he just wanted the best for me and really believed Maths was the better subject.
Over the years, I pottered around with art – sketching, printmaking and painting. I’m not all that good, but it meant that I got to enjoy it. I don’t know if I would have happened, if I HAD to do it – for a job. I wouldn’t have had the freedom to play with art.
And teaching? I loved it and I did lots of art with my young students.
How about you? Did you do School C? Did you do the subjects you wanted? And if you didn’t and you left school at fifteen or sixteen, what job did you do?