What's the world coming to when children can't find their own happiness? Schools have been charged with being exam factories rather than teaching their pupils in the normal backdrop of life.
This didn't happen in the fifties in Australia. I'm going back to my early years in this post today. The main entertainment consisted of reading comics and listening to the radio.
At the age of ten in 1952, I found maths difficult at school. Times tables posed a problem. We had to learn them by route, and would often recite them out loud in class. But I couldn't grasp the answer if asked. However, I loved English and art. As long as I was good at something, I felt happy and at ease with myself.
I took lessons at the Royal Ballet Company in nearby Melbourne. Being tall for my age, always a head above most other students the same age, my career could never develop in that direction because I would be too tall to dance with a partner. Also, my big toe protruded above the other toes, which made standing on point difficult, often resulting in cramp. And so, the beautiful swan bowed gracefully and left the stage at about twelve years.
Sometimes, I'd organize shows in our back yard with chairs set on the path beside the house, all facing the grassed stage. I'd usually recite Little Arabella, which went like this:
Little Arabella had a big umbrella. But one night alas, she left it on the grass. Nine o'clock next day, when she went that way. Blue eyes opened wide, when she saw inside. Little elves with wings, darling little things. Round and fat and jolly. Underneath the brolly.
I'd act it up with all the movements and pronunciations to get the greatest reaction. That's the thing about children—they don't mind repetition. My friends must have heard the poem many times before. We didn't need 'happiness classes.' The world stretched before us with unlimited possibilities.
Did you need happiness classes?