Can we talk about the weird things that happened at school that we thought were completely normal.

There comes a time, usually in the early hours of the morning, when it all comes to you with clarity. 

Suddenly, you're back in Year 4, and the teacher is checking everyone's work. But for some odd reason - maybe you're a psychopath, maybe you simply forgot - you haven't drawn a margin. In red. On the left-hand side of your page. Before you started writing. How very dare you?

How could you?

But it hits you: why did we have to draw a margin on every page? What was the crime in writing too far to the left? If margins were so important why weren't they... included. As part of the... book.

Margins are but one example of the entirely arbitrary things we all did at school that in hindsight are somewhat... bizarre.

In fact, a lot of what we did from Kindergarten to Year 12 was really, really, f*cking weird. Why? Because: children. If you watch a child for any length of time, you'll understand why schools become places of strange rules and rituals. 

So let's pls reflect on the weird things that happened at school that we thought were completely normal. 

Learning the recorder.

No one's life was ever made better by learning to play the recorder.

In fact, no one looks back on the recorder-phase of their education with anything but disdain. 

It's really upsetting.  


Why did we all take it for granted that we, along with 25 of our classmates, would blow into a plastic rod with holes on it for what felt like six months straight?

It. Didn't. Sound. Good. Even. When. You. Played. It. Right.

There needs to be a Royal Commission into the Recorder Industry. Urgently. 

Someone just throwing up. In the middle of the classroom.

I was this kid more than once, but why was it so normal for someone to just vomit? Publicly?

I even remember the smell of the sawdust the teachers would sprinkle on it to... absorb it. 

Imagine if people did that as adults in workplaces? That would be really strange??

Doing the beep test.

Imagine running publicly to keep up with a loud beeping sound. Against your classmates. While your PE teacher watches and records the point at which you quit.

WHY WAS THIS THE ONLY MEASURE OF FITNESS. And it always involved the vast majority of the class sitting on the ground, red in the face, watching two students who wouldn't stop. Because they were elite athletes. And could make it to the end of the tape. 

Can you... stop. 


Which is fine but like could this be done in their own time?? I don't see how this is beneficial to my education when I quit 40 minutes ago.

Getting your pen licence.

Okay but since when do you need a licence to use a pen. 

It was so shameful to still be using a pencil when everyone else had graduated to a pen? And like fair because you're philosophically free to use a pen whenever you like but we didn't know that at the time.

I remember feeling like an actual criminal when I used a pen at home without my license.

Unfortunately you will be going to prison. Image: Getty. 

 Like will I be arrested? Get a fine?


News/Show and Tell.

Every Monday morning, a kid would get up in front of the class and share their 'news' from the weekend. 

Maybe it was a new toy.

Maybe it was photos from their family holiday.

Maybe it was a stick they found outside the classroom.

I forgot it was my turn for news until right now xxx

You never knew. But it was always terrible. 

Who on earth thought giving children free rein to speak to the class was a good idea?

Always having head lice.


Why do all children always have head lice?

I remember a teacher examining my hair for lice which feels really strange in hindsight. Like surely that wasn't her job? 

Watch: If you were a 90s kid, do you remember these? Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

I also still have anxiety every time I sit down at the hairdresser, because I'm certain they're going to tell me I have lice and send me home.

Why did we just accept it was normal that we all had tiny bugs repeatedly infesting our hair? That miraculously never got to our parents' hair?


How. Do. The. Bugs. Know. Which. Hair. Belongs. To. The. Children.

Someone just smearing poo all over the bathroom.

Okay but who was this child and what became of them?

Having a class pet.

Every now and then, one class would adopt a pet fish or a pet crab or MAYBE even a pet guinea pig. 

Return it. Immediately. 

How this didn't constitute animal abuse, I don't know. 

Children are monsters. And you can't share a pet between dozens of people. Someone puts their exercise book in the fish tank or pats the guinea pig too hard and next thing you know you have a sea of grieving children. 

Line dancing/barn dancing/square dancing.

It's literally not 1860. 

Yet for some reason we learnt line dancing and it was considered a normal way for us to interact with kids/teenagers of the opposite sex?

Why couldn't we, I don't know, speak to each other? For example?

But no. It was important that everyone take their shoes off (so the entire room smelt like teenage boy foot) and dance like we were straight out of Little Women.

This seems backwards. 



Completely fictionalised 'rules'.

'If it gets over 30 degrees at school, we all get sent home.'

'If the teacher is more than 15 minutes late, we can leave.'

Who was the student who confidently started all the fake rules? Why did we all believe them without hesitation? And why am I certain they are now a lawyer?

Everyone being in a 'house' and that house saying a lot about their personality.

In hindsight, it was weird that we spent much of our childhood and adolescence defined by the colour we were assigned to at school.

In primary school, Green was the sh*t colour that always lost. I was in Green. 

In high school, Yellow was the sh*t colour that always lost. I was in Yellow.

I was always in the non-cool house and it just seems like that wasn't a coincidence? Somehow school knew, and that honestly needs to be investigated. 

So, yes. It has hit me that my childhood was spent doing very arbitrary things that were entirely bizarre. 

That's why children grow into complicated adults. Because they've been certain since they were seven that they were breaking the law by writing with a pen. 

And late at night, when everything is still, they can hear it: the eerie sound of Hot Cross Buns on the recorder.

For more from Clare Stephens, you can follow her on Instagram

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia.

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