Tuesday, 7 August 2012

School Life - Lessons to be learnt

Despite hundreds of year’s worth of girls going through Godolphin School, relatively few exercise books remain in the archive collection. Those that are present make one wonder just how much school has (or hasn’t!) changed over the last century! 

Spelling and punctuation clearly plagued this student...

 Though we can see this student’s exercise book, we have little clues to what lessons were actually like just by looking at her book. Perhaps this was a dictation task... If we had another girl’s book from this class  we might be able to tell by the similarities and differences between their books what was homework and what took place in class.
Though this English book looks, to me at least, just like my own secondary school lessons, some other exercise books I’ve discovered certainly didn’t! Some of the work among the collection shows just how much education has adjusted and adapted to the times. 
Housewifery, Laundry and Cookery are the 3 sections in most of the folders in the archive
This folder is one of many like it in the archive. It is a student’s record of the Domestic Science lessons taught at Godolphin to the sixth formers. They learnt about housewifery, cookery and laundry.
Their folders were full of all sorts of things lots of us probably don't know now. But maybe wouldn’t need to in lots of instances! 

Like... knowing the different methods of folding handkerchiefs
Did you know there were rules to folding one's handkerchief?
The art of polishing wood...
Many homes still have items of polished wood furniture in them... So where do we learn how to look after such things if it’s no longer taught at school? Perhaps we get all we need to know from the label on the back of the bottle of ‘wood cleaner’ bought in the supermarket. Programs like Kim and Aggie’s ‘How Clean is Your House?’ maybe also enlighten us when there’s nothing better on the TV! 

  The test for the freshness of an egg – I think I learnt this particular piece of knowledge from a housemate at university and she probably learnt it from her mum. 
So not all of the domestic science these ladies learnt has become superfluous now. But in many instances it would seem the younger generations are having to learn it from different sources.
Another thing to note is that where once this type of learning was gender specific, as roles within society are less gender orientated, learning to cook or iron, is not solely knowledge needed by women.

Washing up is certainly a skill to be learned at university if not before!  

One thing that strikes me about these records is how there was a specific way to do everything. Has that changed now? Is there less focus on the rules? I think often, one tries something and if it has the right outcome that’s the way we carry on.  For e.g. If the dishes come out clean... you’ve probably succeeded in washing up!

Know your dinner!
 I think students could benefit from having the above lesson put back in the curriculum. Knowing meat comes from an animal (particularly where on the animal) and not just from Mr Tesco is knowledge that evades some young children today!