THE one lesson I remember from my university Sociology classes was the one where the lecturer told us about normalisation. She told us how norms in society are formed and passed on, and I distinctly recall understanding that lesson alone and feeling quite happy that I had gone into a lecture theatre.
Children develop their norms by associating with different influences at different stages of their lives. When they’re born they get everything from their parents, then as they grow siblings and other relatives come into play. Their nannies or governesses (depending on how posh they are) also contribute along the way. When children start going to school their teachers become the main influences, and when the children develop friendships their friends take over.
#SchoolsMadeMeBetter by being a major provider of my norms, but only after my Parents had deposited theirs, and most importantly BECAUSE my parents decided so.
#SchoolsMadeMeBetter because I got thrown into the arena alongside all sorts of children (and teachers) who made me realise how different I was from them, and in some cases made me appreciate how outstanding we were in our little, humble family. And even as those new norms came upon me, the ones I had left home with were deeply embedded, thank God!
And so, #SchoolsMadeMeBetter because they made me love my parents more and more as I saw their hard work and sacrifice first hand and got to compare it with many other parents’ attributes.
It was in school that I learnt that not all parents went home in the evenings to be with their children and help with homework or supervise cleanliness and other aspects of our lives that irritated and annoyed us.
It was because of school that I discovered how hard life really was for my parents, especially on the days we would get ‘circulars’ and ‘chits’ (those two words have disappeared from our lexicography (Google it – I won’t edit it out) and should return in fact as well as usage, even for the nostalgia alone. Those circulars and chits in many cases advised that we would have to be sent back home if our school fees were not fully paid up by a certain time ‘t’.
Learning that we were on the list of students whose fees were not paid up by the first day of term made it easier to accept not having pocket money by the envelope-load. We understood why we couldn’t have as much grub as the next student, who also happened to be part of the same clique you were in and therefore ‘Birds of a Feather’.
#SchoolsMadeMeBetter because my parents were revealed to me more and more in school even if they were not present their; the way my teachers spoke of them when they had the occasion to, and the attitude the other pupils and students took towards them often made me pause and think about who they really were.
And more, because the way these same pupils and students spoke of their own parents and the parents of others amongst us made me REALLY look up with pride and say the names of my parents with the confidence that I wrote them down as my own name.
Every time the name was said out loud I saw their faces, not mine, and prayed that I was making them proud. Each and every time. When I wasn’t making them proud I was anguished, and wept, and hurt, and prayed for repentance and the chance to make it good again.
#SchoolsMadeMeBetter because they all made me understand the importance of my identity, especially the importance that my parents would place upon the family name. At school I was an extension of who they were outside of school; I had to be careful, respectful, cautious, responsible and serious – all for the sake of the people who were working so hard to afford to keep me in school, and suffered great stress to do so successfully.
#SchoolsMadeMeBetter because they taught me about parental love, care, and sacrifice.