I don’t miss a whole lot about school, but the school environment is special for a number of reasons. And this is what I miss most:
1. Writing/Passing notes in class
My experience of passing notes is not so much like those depicted in the movies, where a singular note is passed around a whole classroom of students sitting in rows and columns of singular desks, usually containing juicy gossip about someone in the room. Instead, my experience of note-passing was usually between just two people, where we would use our school diaries or scrap bits of paper to discuss points of meaning and secrets that generally could not be spoken aloud. It was less gossip, and more personal. One particular friend and I have a string of notes neither of us will ever forget from our first year of high school. I think she still has a workbook with many of our secrets inside, and I know I have come across pieces of paper in recent years, stuffed in corners of bags or underneath other possessions of worth, that bring back memories of those times.
Passing notes just doesn’t happen in my experience of university. When you catch up with friends nowadays, you’re not constantly together and there’s only a certain amount of time to talk about things. And talking is what occurs. No one would go to a cafe, sit down with a cup of coffee and write notes to the person on the other side of the table. And technology has changed the way secrets are shared – with a greater risk of breaching one’s privacy, too.
And the inherent potential for getting caught, tainted the act of writing and sliding notes across the desk with adrenaline. I know it was always a thrill being passed a note. Someone was letting you into another world, their personal thoughts and what they were really consumed by, apart from Australian History, volcanoes or English grammar.
2. Being part of a year level community
Students come and go from schools, maybe some more than others. But generally, a cohort starts at year seven, and graduates together at the end of year 12. While some aspects of the greater school community irritated me, the notion of being part of a ‘family’ that grows and learns together is quite unique. High school is a time when people experience situations and emotions for the first time, and it is interesting to take note of this progress. I believe my year level started off as very clique-y and separated, but by year 12, we really were able to come together and support one another through the toughest times of exams, personal tragedies and celebrations. Friendships changed as people changed, but looking back at those six years, we really matured as a group, and I suspect it will be hard to replicate such a community in the years ahead.
I work and operate best when I have structure and school gave me that like nothing else. While university consists of lectures and tutorials on certain days at specific times, the obligation just isn’t there. At school, the roll was marked and if you were absent it was noted. School started at 8:30 and finished at 3:40, five days a week. Recess was 20 minutes long, lunch was an hour. I was into music, so I often had instrumental lessons, choirs, bands and ensemble rehearsals before, during and after school. So school provided the skeleton for the rest of my activities. Sport and recreation were fitted into the school schedule. Assignments were explained carefully and nightly homework was checked. Basically, you were kept accountable. There seemed to be a real balance between work, play and rest. Particularly in Australia with the majority of students living off campus, we don’t have the college life that university students may have internationally. You come and go from classes and many students have little else to do with their institution, other than the bare minimum of attendance. One may choose to draw up their own personal timetable, but holding yourself to it is much more difficult than when those around you are set the same structure. I like knowing what I’m doing and preparing for the days ahead, but I’m awful at making decisions. So even if I complain that someone else has told me what I have to do, when, it’d be pretty safe to assume that I’m secretly contented with that.
What do you miss about high school?