The school board had clearly planned events so that the lessons requiring experiments were provided with adequate time for the experimental theory to be developed and the message was, hypothetically at least, driven home with the practical demonstration of the principles which had been enunciated. The theory had much to recommend it. In practice, the theory ignored the special traits of our physics teacher, Miss Hill, who insisted that her young charges spend the whole double lesson vertical, not so much in the belief that it encouraged concentration but rather that little boys were less inclined to let their small hands stray into mischief when standing with no intervening obstacles, such as desks, to obscure the evidence. By now, well into the second half of the lesson, small legs were cramping, feet were starting to develop pins and needles and the lesson was becoming a feat of endurance, as we feared that it would.

To attend her classes was to strive mightily in order to avoid the slightest provocation which might incur the wrath of our warden and invite detentions and the summonses to write punishment lines, usually 50 or 100, of suitable self correction, such as “I must not yawn in class”, or “I must not spill ink on my notebook”. The number of pupils led by the ear to the Vice-Principal’s office to await a caning were too numerous to count. We were not hoodwinked by the alligator smiles that she wore for Parents’ Night, or for her colleagues, for we had all too frequently witnessed that explosive temper in full expression and felt the power of its will. The subject on the agenda on this afternoon session was based on the principle of moments, that is the leverage effect of force times distance and Miss Hill was set up to demonstrate the experiment which we were intended to carry out during our next lesson.

 

 

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