4 October 2003

Ullswater Secondary School Subjects

Well I hear you think, a dull piece to read, but there is a tale or two in places.

Miss. Browne took us for English and for the most part enjoyed it. I've mentioned poetry, which I came to like, and the lack of the classics. The syllabus was geared really for good written and spoken English with plenty of use of verb, adjectives, nouns and pronouns with adverbs and correct usage.

Sparse really by today’s standards but then differential calculus and the like was not needed then in most work except for scientific posts. We did not go much beyond fractions and the like. The form teacher taught maths to us in this area.

We were able to take as an extra subject of bookkeeping and shorthand. The bookkeeping was the basics only, 3-column bookkeeping and I applied to take this extra subject. I quite liked it, with its clean tidy layout. Shorthand was included in this part of the syllabus and I had to take this subject also. I didn’t like it very much and I was not very good at it either. I asked to drop this voluntary subject but the master taking these basic business studies was not too happy for me to drop this subject. He stressed the importance of it, if I went into an office environment but I was determined to drop shorthand. He relented but allowed me to continue with bookkeeping. The class was not very large 8 or 10 boys only.

Science, Biology Chemistry etc
These were lumped together and I found them interesting. We touched briefly on Chemistry but we had no labs. The teacher for this wide area majored in Biology I think, or at least it was his passion out of school. Demonstrations or experiments were brought to the classroom, written descriptions and notes were copied from the blackboard into our notebooks, the blackboard that almost covered the entire wall and was in a dull green... a colour thought to be good for the eyes in that era.

A tale or two to follow.

Well I've written of the history master. At this period of my life I found history at best dull, it seemed to be a continual jumble of dates and names and wars. Mainly I did well in history with the feared threat of punishment. I did at times get more than "3 red marks excluding the tick" and lined up in front of the class with the rest. I never really came to grips with history until my later years and an interest in Genealogy and from that my interest in history grew. I don't think the history master was the cause at all; I more inclined to think it was my makeup. I've always tended to be forward looking person, what is round the next corner, and even today I look forward to the new technologies to be discovered or waiting in the wings to be developed.

A different geography was taught in the 1940s than it is today. Geography was the British Colonies and the Commonwealth plus other major countries. We studied our own country of the time, the U.K. its landmass and its industry. I do not remember much of this subject nor how I liked the subject. I am certain I didn’t dislike it.

Woodwork was a core subject too; at most secondary modern schools it was woodwork or metallurgy. Our school it was woodwork, which I quite liked: the working with tools and constructing things. How to make and using dove tailed joints was the order of the day. I made a nice wooden tray but it had one dovetailed corner joint out of line so the tray had a gap at the bottom at one corner. But, I was still proud of my “master piece”! Planing the timber and getting everything straight with a set-square was the order of the day. We did not have to pay for our materials used in those days. In fact all materials for all subjects were free.

A story later.

Art, Physical Education, Horticulture
These were afterthought subjects. There was no gym, just the tar sealed schoolyard for PE. Yes, hotuculture was gardening, I didn't take it, probably i was taking something else.

I may redo this piece later. Doesn't seem to gel somehow

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