Bunking off school isn’t your usual precursor to a lifelong love of books is it?

Well no… but if I hadn’t made a habit of bunking off, I’d have never spent so much time in the local library. It was warm. Had seats. Plenty of nooks and crannies to hide in. What wasn’t to like about it?

And of course, there were the books. Lot’s of them. So, what did I do? Of course… I continued my education. On my own terms. An autodidact. For life.


Why was I there, and not at school? Well, a couple of reasons. One I’m not telling, and the other was pretty much ‘school’ itself. If you’ve ever suffered from acute shyness then you know exactly what I mean. That whole ‘standing up in class’ to read from a book? What’s that even about? Not all of us want to be great orators. Not all of us want that much attention. Ok, so some of us might need a gentle push to take us out of our comfort zones in order to fulfil some future potential. But equally, some of us just like being left alone. And to continue that way, quite happily, into the future. So, it was quite a comfort to read Susan Cain’s book ‘Quiet’. It actually put a voice, a very eloquent voice, to my thoughts and feelings on all this. Required reading for everyone, I think. Put it on the syllabus, I think. And that goes for teacher training literature and putting in the hands of school policy makers.

I mean, as far as education timetables go – doesn’t it seem odd that the very time of life that hormones kick in corresponds exactly with the start of exams? Surely the teenage brain can be put to much better, more creative and societally beneficial use for those few important years? I know there’s all kinds of scientific research backing up what most of us already know instinctively, about the teenage brain being different. But is it being put into some useful context yet? Jury’s out.

Anyway, at that age, I had my own ideas. And, thanks to that welcoming book infested library – especially the ‘do-it-yourself’ section – I knew I could acquire knowledge as and when required. Live by the seat of your pants stuff. (Perhaps no coincidence that I was developing at the same time as punk – here’s some of me ol’ mucker, Jon Lydon’s, thoughts on those times).

But of course, those were ‘happy days’. Those ‘seat of the pants’ days. The ones where you could get a job simply by going in and asking for one. All you needed was initiative and desire to work. Where the impression you gave to the boss right there ‘on the spot’ might actually bag you a source of income. Middle management wasn’t such a big thing then. Bosses could actually make decisions. And walking in to ask for a job? Nowadays? It’s all ‘CV’s by post or email only please’. Followed by checking the internet for your digital audit trail… Oh yes, all that silly nonsense you might share on social networks (note to self – delete silly nonsense before big brother leaves a comment)…

All this reminiscing has got me wandering what’s going to happen in the years to come. I’ll watch, as always, with interest. Well, that’s when I’m not reading. Or writing.

So what was your experience with school? Did you love it? Have a teacher that left an amazingly deep impression on you? Or, like me, did you go your own way… if so, how did you survive?