Saturday, February 9, 2008

on public school

It was my mothers idea that I should try out an art school, because I was very talented at drawing. Talented, meaning that i was able to draw with much precision, accurately immitating physical reality on a sheet of paper. I complied, because I felt special in a way and priviledged, knowing most of my friends would attend a 'casual' public school. I remember how impossible it seemed that life could go on even beyond primary school.

The change was enormous. I came from this discipline-primary school and now I came into an establishment where there existed some kind of freedom. For example, we were supposed to find our own way to the classes, when the bell rang and it wasn't expected of us that we should form a row and wait for teachers to come. Also it was allowed for students to smoke, from third grade on, and many students did. When it came to clothing, everyone was allowed to dress exactly as they pleased. I became familliar with the differnt 'styles' of clothing, etc. There was somewhat of a skate-culture aswell. many guys wore very large trousers - I had never seen this before. So the change of enviroment was drastic. On top of that, there were a lot of 'older' students, who were twenty of age, because they had failed a year or two. When you doubled a year or two - it appeared to me, you became highly respected. The several buildings in wich the school was located also formed an experience on their own. They were quite old to start with and they didn't look like school-buildings at all. In the beginning i would often have the experience of being in some kind of prison, because some of the older students looked like what I understood from television to be criminals. But it was just the clothes off course. Remember, this school was in Brussels, and my previous one was in some neat town, where nothing would ever really happen.

There existed much frusration among the students, especially the older ones. A lot of people just seemed to be completely bored. Everyone was just standing and smoking - talking somewhat - or sitting in groups on benches. The first year I would still play during breaktime, but it would be mostly basketball. I had this 'best friend' freshly made, who was very good at it and he would play basket with me, together with some other people. Once he was dribbling and turning around himself in a backward movement, he just kept turning several times around himself and I would just run after the bal trying to catch it - so I was running one cirkel after the other (3 to 4 ) around him, really like a dog actually, chasing his own tail. He eventually stopped, because he couldn't keep himself serious - to him i was hilarious and he just stopped dribbling because his laughter became oncontrollable. The situation was particularly funny, because he had been dribbling very quick and low to the ground, so that if I wanted to catch the ball the way I intended (just by running fast enough) I was forced to run in a bent down way, with at least one arm constantly reaching downwards for the ball. I really believed I would eventually catch the ball ! For a moment I had been his dog. I didn't feel embarrased though, I liked running after it. And I was rather disappointed he had stopped, because my plan was that he would get tired at some point so that I would be able to just grab it out of his hands.

In first grade we had a lot of fun and I could still be a child. The teachers where allways pleased with me because I coöperated in class and my grades were the highest of my class. The reason why my grades were high, was actually due to the fact that the studdy matter was super easy. I had the impression that i had had to work harder when i was in primary school - and this was actually the case! There was just one boy who didn't seem to have as much trouble as the other kids in having high grades in my class. Apparently I had been supertrained in the school i came from, or maybe I was just much smarter than the others. In class aswell, there was a much nicer atmosphere than in the previous school. The teachers were friendly and they took me -especially - in high regard because I had the highest grades of my class, and also because my drawing talent was way above average, even in an artschool. So one could say I was 'popular amongst the teachers'. And I had the advantage I spoke french, so that I could match up with the cool kids.

I was particularly greatfull I could be friends with this one guy I mentioned eralier (I'll cal him C.E., for convenience). The reason why, is the following. Since I was in primary school I always used to have a best friend. I needed him, because I believed it was impossible for me to stand on my own. We would protect each other, we were loyal to each other. We stood as eachothers safety. This was nessecary, because life could get violent in primary school. Violent, from the perspective that children don't fear taking eachother on physicaly when disagreement or frictions arise. Fighting was much more innocent back then. You'd hurt eachother, off course, but you couln't break someones arm, because you simply are not strong enough (haha) and we were not that destructive. So, from that perspective, you had to have 'usefull' friends. Some children were known to be stronger than others, etc. Now, my best friend - he was strong, and also he wasn't afraid to stand up for himself. he had two older brothers who were both attending the same school and one of them was in sixth grade! So I was lucky to be friends with this guys 'little brother' (W.), because of the extent to wich the sixth graders were admired and respected. Apparently, W. would stand as my safety most of the time! But as his older brother left, our relation became more equal, I suppose.

I actually never had to stand alone. There had allways been someone keeping an eye on me, "protecting me". This was very dramatically exemplified by my first years at school with my mum. She was a teacher in a primary school in Brussels, and when I was 3 years old this is where she put me. Now, because my mum herself was a teacher in the school where I attended I enjoyed a number of liberties. Even if i wasn't aware of it, a protecting hand would always hang over my head - even if it only existed in the minds of the other children. I must admit, I don't have any fresh memory of this right now, but my mum told me I used to be able to take the ball from the bigger kids in school and they wouldn't dare to claim it back!

So, from that perspective I was looking for this protection when I would enter a new establishment. I remember how I noticed the difference in the way the teachers in my new primary school (the one I attended 6 years) treated me. It is then that it occured to me that in my previous school, I had actually been under some form of protection. I had to do it all by myself now. (I moved from school, because mum was pregnant of Leila, and had to stay at home - and she couldn't take me to school with her anymore. I remember she used to read me fairytale stories on the train, when we went to school together, from a huge book she'd take along - with a woolf on the light-green cover.)

The firts time the new teacher would get angry at me, I was shocked, like I did not expect it to be possible!

No comments: