Wednesday, August 17, 2016

There's no success like failure, and failure's no success at all (Bob Dylan)

The footsteps of dawn (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 3, part 5)

Okay - quick recap: 

  • 1971 - Third form at Mt Albert Grammar School - relegated down a class, where I came 38th out of 38!
  • 1972 - bottom of my 4th form class
  • 1973 - failed School Certificate
  • 1974 - second year fifth.

All the while I was telling friends,  parents of friends, my family, my teachers, everyone, that I was going to go to University, get a Masters of Arts degree and become a teacher. To their eternal credit, no one laughed, no one told me otherwise. 

Actually, maybe they did, but I never noticed!

I was focused. University. MA. Teacher. 

No longer the smallest guy on parade - third from left, third row.
Sixth form, and getting accredited for University Entrance was the focus for 1975. I guess my teachers weren't that surprised that I'd scrapped through. 

In some ways, in that I don't remember much about classroom activities, the year was a repeat of 1973. At the end, though, I was able to excel in English and get by in the other subjects and was accredited. 

Football remained one area of huge success. In my second year in the first XI we won the Auckland championship in cliffhanger fashion in the last game of the season at Takapuna Grammar. That game is tattooed into my consciousness. 

After a sliding tackle, I got the ball; I can still feel myself chipping the ball with my left foot to the far post for Peter Sarapu's goal. One nil.

A back headed equaliser - one one. 

The wind was strong as we attacked and scored - two one, the result we needed as we hung on for the famous victory!

Heroes! In the changing rooms we sang about being champions, in assembly we received our winning caps from the headmaster. Mine's tucked away with my precious stuff.
Next to Howard Atkinson with Warwick.
Howard's brother Geoff in back row.

In 1976 I returned for a largely lackadaisical go at University Bursary (now replaced by NCEA Level 3). Sporting wise I was captain of the first XI, won the badminton cup and was a demon fast bowler in Warwick Gibbs' cricket team.

Girls go crazy for a sharp dressed man - LOL. Far right, third row.
After a memorable interview (all the candidates had to be interviewed by the Headmaster in front of the whole staff!), I was made a prefect. My ability in English continued to improve even though I had disagreements with 'Daddy' Weir's geriatric teaching style. Although he was sympathetic to my complaint, Barry Gough couldn't help my cause much.

On the failure side of the ledger, the football team couldn't repeat 1975's success, and I failed to get any kind of bursary. 

After mum taught me to drive, I failed my first attempt at the driver's license. The oral bit did for me. On the second attempt I succeeded and drove myself to school when mum's car was available.

At school I heard the government gave teaching studentships to students to study at university in return for a bond to teach. Perfecto I thought. 

I applied, was interviewed and was unsuccessful. Oh well - I'd go to university and try again next year!

As MAGS said farewell, Senior Master Ron Hemus gave me a slip of paper headed 'Higher School Certificate'. That and my University Entrance meant that in 1977 I was heading to Auckland University.

After six years I was leaving a place which I'd come to love. My legacy at MAGS was my name on the hallowed walls of the school hall for being captain of the first XI and prefect. 

However, no matter how much I'd loved MAGS, I couldn't wait for a new start!

Love and peace - Wozza


Christine said...

what do you put those years of failure down to? music? sport? boring teachers?

Wozza said...

It's hard to say Christine. It's not one simple thing.

I was very very immature - on a physical and mental level I was way behind the other boys and it took me four years to catch up with my peers.

Plus, yes, I was way more interested in music and sport at that time. When mum and dad came into my teenage bedroom and saw it completely covered with music and Arsenal posters I was often told, 'if only you put as much effort into your school work!', which I thought was unfair - I did do work and I did try but things seemed beyond my comprehension!

I can't blame the teachers. As I said in the blog I had some really super amazing teachers. For chemistry I had my dad helping me AND a great young teacher but I still didn't get it AT ALL. My brain is not wired for maths/ science. I don't think it's a coincidence that by the sixth form I was only doing (and failing) maths - the rest of my subjects - English, art, geography, French, history were much more me.

What I still find staggering is how I never lost sight of my dream (and no one was telling me otherwise). I remember that in my own teaching.