Thursday, November 29, 2007
thinking about me, school & science...
Not a great combination, me and school, in the 70s. I was pretty crap at most subjects. French was bad, English was horrific, but the science subjects were just dire. Now, things are different, and I am quite sure that the answer I gave in one memorable biology lesson would probably be marked as correct these days. The task was to draw a 'normal' geranium and one that had been clamped upside-down. We had to draw how the upside-down geranium would grow.
The 'control' plant looked a bit like this. No problems there. I'd have probably got a tick in my book for that diagram, had my work been marked.
The problem was with my experimental geranium. The upside-down one, which I drew like this:
Now, to this day, I STILL maintain that my diagram is correct. Yes, I KNOW they wanted me to draw an upside-down plant, with shoots coming up round the pot, towards the light, BUT - think about it. How are you going to water this plant? This was my argument, and I wrote extensively about the problems of watering an upside-down plant, going into the ins and outs (or should that be ups and downs) of gravity (yes, I may have said something like "...gravity, as invented by Isaac Newton", I probably lost a few marks there). I also said that because the water wouldn't wet the soil, it would fall to the surface the clamp was on, the soil would dry out, shrink back from the side of the pot, and join the puddle of water, the withered plant (sadly not a Poinsettia), would also fall out, therefore, a plant clamped upside-down would not grow. Naturally the other 32 girls in the class went for the "correct" shoots growing upwards towards the light.
I was right. However, I didn't get my biology 'O' level. One of the questions was to draw a named fish and butterfly, and label some of the parts. We never did fish or butterflies, as our teacher spent about 2 years only ever discussing the sex life of the hawthorn twig (which I can assure you is NOT the raciest of sex lives). But I couldn't resist the opportunity to show off my shite cartoon skills and drew my named fish (I named it 'Eric') and my named butterfly (also 'Eric').
Physics was another disaster area. I didn't do it for 'O' level - I was well and truly chucked out of physics after a year, and an end of year exam which got an embarrassing 5% (which was upped to 50% by the time my parents got my report, I always used to take two report envelopes so I could make a few slight adjustments before my parents read it. I don't know why I bothered, they still went ballistic. My best alteration was changing 'Wendy has made little effort', into 'Wendy has made a little effort', very nearly had the ink the exact colour as well. A triumph of my forgery skills which were bloody good anyway, I could do my mum's writing for notes to get off PE etc. (more of that another day).
Anyway - the physics exam. List 5 similarities and 5 differences between eyes and cameras. Well, I had a field day with the differences, starting with an inspired "You can't hang your eye round your neck", and "with your eye, you don't have to send a film off to get the pictures". Similarities were harder, but I thought "both are useful on holiday" was quite good, and so was "you wouldn't want to lose either".
Chemistry - I got 13% for the end of year exam, changed to 48%. The only things I can remember about Chemistry is the horrible gassy smell of the lab, and making some rather magnificent blue crystals, much better than anyone else's and selling them for a 1p a time, getting discovered and having to give the money back.
I must have a think about some of the other subjects, as I was pretty shite at them as well. I spent more time outside the classroom than in it, in the last few years, from age 13 to 17. And there was the day I played truant, and how I got caught, and my suspension for 3 weeks, and the 17th birthday present I had off my mum who must have been seriously pissed off with me!