26 September 2003

Ullswater Secondary School Discipline 2

Of all the teaching staff at Penrith Secondary Modern, I can bring only 2 names to mind, and one was the Headmaster, Mr. Peake. Of the other 2 schools I attended during my education, I can remember their names clearly.

Back to Mr. Peake, He was a short man with glasses who stood very straight; he had a short crew cut hairstyle that also stood up very straight. He expected discipline in his school and left his staff to enforce it. Which they did. We did not see too much of him except as an occasional relief teacher.

There was only 1 female teacher on the staff and her name was Miss Browne. As the History Master ruled by the cane, Miss Browne ruled by her personality. Before she arrived at the school, the grape vine went into full swing. She was 21... she was straight from training college... she was very pretty, ... would she measure up? Miss Browne arrived and was viewed by many curious boys and I think, probably staff alike.

Miss Browne was very pretty and she did look young, even to us. She was a little taller than average and slim; she had a short pageboy hairstyle that curled up at the ends.

It seemed strange to have a young female teacher before us in class. The day of the first lesson went very smoothly and, although I don't remember now I think we were probably warned to be on our best behaviour in class with Miss Browne. As the days and weeks progressed when Miss Browne taught us most if not all of us enjoyed her lesson. Everyone behaved himself and as the weeks progressed, we all were attentive in class. She never raised her voice; she didn't need to, most of the class tried and took more notice in class.

As I look backwoods I can see Miss Browne and our class and I realise now why we tried harder than usual. For everyone was in love with the earnest Miss Browne. She was so earnest, she never castigated anyone making them look foolish, boys who never raised their hands to a general question started to raise their hands, even Henry. A retort to a wrong answer was "good try, Henry, but not quite", with a smile. The threat of punishment was removed when Miss Browne taught, the cane a vague memory, lines or detention were a distant memory. She always prefaced her remarks to an answered question with a complement irrespective whether the answer was right or wrong. The boys like Lol who never answered questions, Miss Browne would address directly. Lol would look around dumbly searching for words which never seem to come and she would patiently explain to Lol dropping a little hint on the way and the answer would rise slowly to Lol's lips and the answer would pop out, much to Lol's astonishment and ours too! And, Lol would grin with pleasure when she complemented him, a red-letter day for him. How she could be so patient day after day with so many dunderheads I don't know. As I pen this piece I wonder now if she was able to maintain her earnest sunny nature as the years rolled away and as I ponder I have a suspicion she did, for I now realize Miss Browne saw the good in everyone waiting to get out.

Miss Browne will be an old lady now of circa 80 years but I still picture her as that earnest 21 year old who arrived at our school and made an impression on so many of us both teachers and boys, even Henry. If a rarity like Miss Browne comes your way consider yourself privileged

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