A little while back, my mother came across some papers of mine, which she duly handed over to my brother, and, in the fashion whereby he rotates around the planet roughly seven times annually, the time came about when he and I were in the same location, and he passed them on to me. For some reason, the thick envelope that they were placed within was posted from Italy to the CSIRO Pastoral Resources Lab in Armidale in 1986 — no, I have no idea why either — but within was a treasure trove of my old documents, including just about every school report I’d ever bought home. And they’re fascinating reading, especially because they date from an age when school teachers could, in fact, say what they thought about a pupil.

I prefer that approach to be honest, but I know there’s a lot of parents who can’t deal with the concept that little Henry might not be the sweetest apple of their eye, but instead a spitting, spoilt, illiterate thug with the manners of a pig and the body odour to match. Still, reading back, and with the notion, as Wordsworth put it, that the child is the father of the Man, reveals some interesting comments about Alex Kidman (junior edition). My current-day comments are italicised after each quote.

5th of July 1976:
Diptheria Injection, 0.5ml.

Which would explain why I’ve never had diptheria, I guess…

1979: (My Kindy year. Yeah, I’m that old)
Under a heading “Book work is neat and orderly” TICK
(not a trend that would continue)
“Alex appears to enjoy school and he is now playing with other children in the playground”
(What was I doing before “now”?)

1980:
Mathematics: “We are still having a few problems with number reversals!”
(Gee, I wonder where my kids get THAT from, then…)

1981:
Under a heading of “Is attentive in class”
“Is inclined to go off into a world of his own”
(Cool. I never knew I had a whole world of my own. Anyone want to buy some real estate?)

1983:
Certificate of Merit: “Outstanding Interest In Computer Work”
(Not presaging anything. Strangely, I also have a fragment of an ECG scan dated from 1983 in the pile.)

1984:
English: “He enjoyed his extension work, scripting and producing an excellent video”
(Strangely, I’ve still got this. And no, you can’t see it, and it’s most definitely not going up on YouTube)

1985
Comments on Other Subjects: Art, Craft, Science, Music, PE
“Craft is usually approached from an unusual angle”
(perhaps a taller craft chair might have been in order)

1986:
English (tested, trivia fans, by the woman who sold my mother the house I was living in at the time):
“Alex has ability but tends to rush at his written work”
(My daughter does EXACTLY this. I should probably be more understanding…)

1987:
Physical Education: “Alex can be rude and disruptive in class”
(A bit of back history here: I can only think of two teachers throughout my schooling who I really, really hated. Oddly, I encountered both of them in 1987. This PE teacher was one of them, as unless you were built in the manner of the proverbial brick outhouse, he considered you were “slacking” constantly. Hated, hated, hated PE that year.)

1988:
English: “Alex is a very talented writer, but at times wastes his efforts in attempts at being humorous — I expect it is a phase that will pass…”
(Ah, Mr Craske. You were so, so wrong on that score. I do credit him, however, with really getting my English learning on track, and leading me to my writing career. I wonder what he’s up to now?)
Physical Education:“Alex is a very pleasant member of the group. His enthusiasm helps him to cope well with PE problems”
(See? It was just a git of a P.E. teacher at Armidale High… not me.)

1989:
Work Experience Report (this one is self written, at a time when I badly wanted to be a vet)“Day 4: Dog Castration. Quite a bit different to Cat Castration”
(A fine eye for detail in the young Kidman there, methinks)

1991
2U History:

“Alex has a perceptive and analytical approach to evidence, and a subtle understanding of the conceptual tools of the historian”
(There was a time when I was headed with gusto towards the dusty halls of academia as a historian, but several years of University study in that discipline convinced me otherwise. In some ways a pity; I did rather well.)
(Also several certificates, one for acting in “After The Ball Is Over”, a play I’d completely forgotten about until I saw the certificate. And a blacklight show I remember being an awful lot of fun.)

I’m not sure what happened to both 1982 and 1992 (although I do still have my HSC certificates from 1992 somewhere. And 1990 was the year that I was schooled in both the UK and Australia, so it’s perhaps not surprising there are no reports from then in my possession.

0 thoughts on “Report card time…”

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