Over this past weekend I attended my old Primary school’s centenary celebrations. I’ve been lucky, in a way, in that I have managed to maintain some contact with my old school through ongoing relationships due to having family in the village. Once the last of our family left the area though, this changed and I lost contact.
I attended the school from 1972 to 1978 as a student, and then returned as a teacher in 1989. Honestly, within that time frame there had been little change to the school physically, or even culturally. The school was still a multi-cultural school with students from a variety of backgrounds in attendance, just as it had been when I first enrolled. The only difference was that the school had shrunk from a two teacher to a one-teacher school, due to changes in farming and the loss of the lucrative tobacco market.
This, of course, was the Centenary of Public Education at Bonshaw School. Prior to 1914, since 1882 at least, school in one form or another had been available to the local residents. One of those original schools is now the front building, where my father went to school. The second building was added in 1962. It was extended with an extra classroom for classes in 1972.
On Saturday, I was amazed when I entered the classroom. I had first been to the library, where physically, little had changed. It was rearranged slightly, but no real difference was evident. Entering the classroom was different. When I had started school in 1972, we sat in rows by our grade and no one was allowed to sit elsewhere. There was a chalkboard at the front of the room for the teacher, and small chalkboards at the rear for students, as well as a small wet area for cleaning up after painting. The floor was wooden. An old box type radio hung on the wall and we used it for our weekly session of “Let’s Join In” singing. We had a sand tray table, and the room was marginally decorated with displays, mostly of the teacher’s own work, designed to stimulate. I always loved the painted windows.
Now, there is a huge change. The primary classroom is now a kind of AV room, with an interactive whiteboard, photocopier, sound system and other such items. There is also a range of other equipment, readily on hand for lessons.
The main classroom blew me away. Here was an actual classroom, putting into place almost everything we had been learning about in our classwork for EDLA459. It was as if the teacher had been a student of this course in the past.
Apart from displays in circular patterns, everything was laid out almost straight from the “textbook”!
I was astonishing to see that so much attention to detail had been applied by one person in pursuit of the best possible learning space within a given physical area.
Group learning spaces have been catered to, as have comfort areas for various individual learning styles and activities. There is a bank of computers along one wall as well as there being an Interactive White Board at the front of the room (it was the rear when I was there) with a large conventional white board and a wall mounted tv.
Wall spaces were well organised with lots of informative posters and select pieces of children’s work, but there was no evidence of the children having created any of the displays.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of the classroom from when I was a student or teacher there, but I do have an external picture illustrating some change.