Fifi was first enrolled in Learning School when Geordie was in Year 2. The enrolment procedures were simple, and involved significantly less paperwork than Geordie’s enrolment in Kindergarten did two years before.
Prerequisites for Learning School consisted only of the ability to be folded and stuffed into a small drawer in the wardrobe, and a certain tolerance for dark, crowded places over long periods of time.
The experience of Learning School was one to be endured rather than enjoyed. It involved long hours of facing the unknown and dealing with the associated fear and anxiety.
The 3 R’s were at the core of Learning School, but not the reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic of school as we know it.
Over time, we were privy to snippets of information about Fifi’s days at Learning School. To summarise the experience, in Fifi’s words:
Everyone seems to know what to do. This is what I have to learn. When my class are doing an activity, I have to do the activity too. Even if I don’t like it. I might be allowed to stand and watch, but eventually, I am going to have to join in. There are certain things I do sometimes that none of my classmates do; they think it’s weird when I do them. I have to learn to stop. The days are long. There are so many things to learn and sometimes it’s a bit scary. But this is the way the world of learning school is.
In a nutshell, the 3 R’s at Learning School were:
run with the pack,
Fifi spent a good six months at Learning School; he was there every day, even on weekends. According to Geordie, Fifi could not leave Learning School until he learnt ‘how to be good’.
Looking back I can see that Geordie was expressing, through Fifi, how he felt about school. Year 2 was the first ‘stable’ year that Geordie had at school, but it was still peppered with issues – as every year of his schooling has been. So, the fact that Learning School emerged while Geordie was in Year 2 is not a reflection of the year he was having, but more of his growing maturity and ability to express his ideas in this way.
Hindsight would be an amazing thing to possess.
But, then again, I have to ask myself: in this case, what would I have done with it?