School days always brought jitters

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 24, 2013

“School days, school days, dear old golden rule days,” my mother and daddy chanted to me every year on the heels of my summer vacation when the start of school approached. Then one or the other of them finished singing the song that was familiar during their school days. I still think of it when all the signs of a new school year appear. Since the new school year is underway, some of my school day memories flitter to mind.

In 1991 while living in Lillian, I took a class to learn a computer program I needed at work. Twice a week, I checked out from work early and rushed home to ride with a friend to Pensacola Junior College for a two- hour class. Almost the minute I first sat down in that classroom, I got the jitters. I felt just like I did when I suffered though my ancient history class during my first year in high school—instantly lost. Back then I was terrified of my gruff-speaking teacher, Miss G.

Did I actually let something that had happened all those years ago affect me? I hate to admit it, but yes, I did. The computer instructor was a nice person, but when she used an unfamiliar term and I didn’t know what to do next, that same sinking feeling once triggered by Miss G. overwhelmed me. When Miss G. directed a question at me, even if I knew the answer, it escaped me. While she wrote test questions on the board, I sat trembling at my desk. Despite my having burned the midnight oil before test days, the answers floated away from me when I tried to put them on paper. I had no problem with my other classes, but things just never worked out for me in that class.

It wasn’t the computer class teacher that buffaloed me. It began with the computer. Although I used one at work, the one on my desk at the junior college was unfamiliar. I didn’t even know how to turn it on or off. That put me behind right away, so while everyone else (mostly young college students) moved along with the lesson, I was stuck. I was afraid of getting hopelessly behind, the way I did in history class.

Fortunately, I had learned more self-control through the years. I averted panic by turning to the instructions in my workbook once I got the computer turned on. I got up enough nerve to ask for help from the computer teacher. It was something I never dared with my history teacher. Those moves got me back on track. I went home discouraged once or twice, but I was determined to learn. I made enough progress to enable me to use the program to my purposes upon completing the class.

I have often thought if I had not been so afraid of my history teacher, school days during my freshman year could have turned out a lot better for me.