Arthur’s memoir includes a whole chapter on ‘Early School and Later Inspiration’, drawing upon his time at pre- school, and how the events at school limited or drew on his confidence. The section is so important to him, he says himself it, ‘really deserves an album to itself!’.
When Arthur first started school, the experience startled him leaving him feeling lost, and almost like the education system was failing him already. He states how he was used to the ‘quiet and orderly life at home’, suggesting that school was almost a distraction from hobbies and subjects he wished to get on with. This noise ‘appalled’ him, and uses ‘noise’ and ‘confusion to describe the classroom itself.
He also refers to his fellow classmates as ‘brats’. This suggests to he how Arthur was very mature for his age. He enjoyed his time at home, being able to go about his day to day life ‘independently’. This part of the memoir did bring a smile to my face as I imagine Arthur, years ahead in maturity craving the quiet while the other students run around him being typical toddlers.
However, Arthur still held some traits of a typical child, remembering how he felt ‘abandoned’ when he was handed over from his mother to the teachers of the first day. I for one can relate to this pure feeling of fear when my mother walked out the reception classroom leaving me in the strange environment of school on my first day, and I feel like any readers of Arthurs memoir would read this and it would take them back too.
This negative feeling towards school carried on, feeling he was too academically able for his fellow classmates. He brings firth the memory of doing ‘hooks’, and how this simple task seemed pointless in furthering his academic mind. He finishes this memory in the sarcastic tone of, ‘So this was school – I expected better of it’.
However, over time, school did start to build upon Arthur’s confidence and states how it, ‘moved him positively by an inspirational force’. This was more in junior school rather then preschool. He talks a lot how the most prominent memories from school were his art lessons where he was praised often for his natural drawing ability. One of his memories shows him getting full marks on a piece he drew of an ‘umbrella’ without putting much effort into it. He also tells us of a similar memory of a jug he drew, again without much effort being, ‘hung on the classroom wall for so long that I grew heartily sick of it’. His lack of enthusiasm at his high marks shows how Arthur was quite confident in his own abilities, and how high marks did not surprise him.
Although Arthur does not talk about what type of school he went to, he does recall when entering a different classroom to show a teacher his work that they were studying Shakespearean literature, which suggests this type of academia was studied in high class institutions.
However, despite going to a higher class school and the important skills he gained, Jacobs continues to give the impression that school was not a prominent part of his life, stating the snapshots of school he tells the reader, ‘shouldn’t really have been tucked in this page at all’, and is quick to want to ‘press on’ with his story.
Despite Jacob’s lack of excitement when talking about school, I feel it is an important chapter of his life to document. You can tell a lot from someone’s background, personality and skills when one starts school, and I feel the confidence he gained from this experience helped him in his future ventures.
/. (2015). History of Hampstead Heath . Available: http://www.hampsteadheath.net/history.html. Last accessed 10/10/2015.