Of all my school exercise books – carefully covered in brown paper by my own fair hand – the one with which I enjoyed an interesting love – hate relationship was my Homework Diary.
You must have had one of these yourselves - younger readers, you probably have one still. Each entry a set of instructions as to work to be completed in what is supposed to
be “free time” together with – oh, fatal words! – a deadline date. Usually written in red and under-scored. Occasionally, in extreme circumstances, in a box, perhaps with a large asterisk indicating its unmissability.
What I used to like about the homework diary was crossing through the entries when the work was done. Taking a ruler, drawing a firm cross from corner to corner. Job done! How very
satisfying that was. On the other hand, what I used to hate about the homework diary was that, however many entries I crossed out with my trusty ruler, there was always at least one entry awaiting my attention, smirking up at me from the pages of my Homework
Homework. I wonder who invented it? He or she obviously didn’t have enough to do, so sadistically decided that, if they were bored, twiddling
their idle fingers, the least they could do was to make sure that children’s free time should be crammed full of Improving Work. And I was comparatively lucky – when I was at school (many years ago, I have reached, as Faris delights in reminding
you, a Great Age) it wasn’t until Senior School that the Scourge Of Homework was visited upon us. These days even the littl’uns come home with words to learn, sums to wrestle with, spellings to be tested on.
I remember, when I was a Working Gal, facilitating a discussion among a group of seven and eight year olds. They were debating whether time should be set aside in the classroom after school was finished
for the completion of homework so that, when pupils were finally released for the day they could go home and enjoy the rest of the day guilt – and homework – free. One earnest young fella – clearly a Prime Minister in the making – argued
passionately for the status quo. Firstly, he opined, doing homework at home taught self-discipline (though he didn’t use that word, he was, after all only seven years old. I am translating...) His most telling argument, however, was that it wouldn’t
be called “home” work, if it wasn’t meant to be done at home. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings...
You may be wondering why I have been
thinking of homework, at my Great Age. But, think again, my friends, for I have been charged with important studies to be completed at home before I report back to my teachers. If I had a Homework Diary, you would see them written in, loud and clear,
probably in capital letters for good measure. Firstly, you will remember, when I left my Bunting Workshop last Sunday afternoon I had a sewing machine tucked under my arm. Well, not exactly tucked under my arm – but certainly tucked into the boot of
my car. The entry in my Homework Diary, if I had one, would read: “Practise Pedalling.”
The trouble with me is I always want to run before I
walk – so I decide against simply finding some material and sewing up and down, trying to keep my stitches straight. I forget that the whole purpose of my homework is to manage the speed of the machine such that I can keep pace with it, rather than
clinging on to the material for dear life as I drive the sewing machine at a hundred miles an hour. Instead I think I will try to make another string of bunting, seeking to remember everything I was taught last weekend. Along the way, I will have to drive
the sewing machine and, hopefully, my stitching will be straight and true and I won’t get pulled up for exceeding the speed limit.
I have a good time practising. I now have seven little flags
waiting to be strung together. So busy was I with my homework that I completely neglected my ironing which is still sitting on the sofa staring accusingly at me. Fortunately, Tomorrow is Another Day.
have also been set homework by the redoubtable Muriel, our conductor at choir. She has provided us with some Food for Thought which will greatly improve our singing next Friday morning. Trouble is, I can’t remember what it was we were supposed
to be practising. It was no use asking Mr B because he was concentrating on ordering two bacon baps and two cups of coffee from the community centre cafe.
I really, really need is a Homework Diary...