My teachers taught me too well...

Related Topics
I was startled to hear the news over the weekend that two children, or erstwhile children, are suing the school they attended for not giving them sufficient education, which I presume means not enough GCSE certificates. The reason I was startled is that I am engaged in exactly the same lawsuit with my old school, except that it is in reverse.

I am suing my old school for over-educating me.

Yes, my claim is that by giving me too much information and instruction my old school has tended to make my life a misery.

A simple example: my main interest at school was in modern languages. I was especially interested in the origins of words, and was delighted to find when I got to university and started doing medieval French, that the evolution of words linked up with my memory of Latin - that is to say, that you could trace a modern French word like "navire" meaning ship right back to Latin "navem" through all the intervening stages.

("Navem", as I remember led to the medieval word "nef", meaning a ship, but this got shortened and eroded, and was replaced by a longer diminutive of the same word, which gave us "navire". Much the same happened to the Latin word, "apem", meaning a bee, which gave the medieval word "ef". Any word as short as "ef" is doomed to extinction, and it was duly replaced by "abeille" which comes from "apiculam", whch is a diminutive of "apem"...)

I can remember, too, learning a short list of words which are the only remnants in modern French of Celtic words which actually predate the Roman invasion, and which have thus survived two thousand years and which were there before the Romans brought Latin in. One of them was "luge", the name for that ridiculously large sledge in whch people use gravity to get from nowhere to nowhere...

If the reader is by now nodding off at this recitation of dusty and probably misremembered philological facts, you can imagine what sort of a conversational bore I have been in my life at dinner parties, book launches and Millennium celebration committee meetings. I only had to bring the subject of word derivations up for my friends to begin to yawn and wives start to speculate about the French word for decree nisi. "I see that the Norwegians got the gold for the luge again," I would hear someone say, and I would be off before you could stop me.

I blame my education. There were things I was taught that I should never have been taught, and which have blighted my life. Among the many other subjects which I blame my old school for over-educating me in are ...

1 Maths. I was taught the basic rules of chance, and the law of probability. For this reason I am doomed never to have the fun of buying a lottery ticket, as I know the odds are too heavily stacked against me.

2 English. I had the basic meanings of words like "refute" and "infer" and "disinterested" dinned into me, and now I cannot hear them misused without either having dyspepsia or feeling the urge to correct the misuser, which often leads to a biff on the nose.

3 English literature. I was introduced to Jane Austen by an over-enthusiastic teacher when I was 12, which was far too young for me to appreciate them, and I have never been able to face her since, as my favourite auther in those days was Conan Doyle, whom, indeed, I still prefer. As a result I cannot watch costume drama on TV these days, as we are fed a non-stop diet of Emma this and Elizabeth that when I would much prefer Brigadier Gerard or Rodney Stone.

4 Games. I was taught at school that rugby was a fast, flowing, skilful and exciting game, or at least that that was the way to play it, and am thus unable to watch what passes for the game today with any pleasure at all.

5 Logic. I was taught the basic rules of logic, and thus cannot listen without nausea to Any Questions, the Today programme etc, as on those programmes they conduct what passes for conversation without any question ever matching any answer.

6 French. I ended up speaking passably good French, which means that the average Frenchman has more fun pretending he cannot understand me than he would with someone he really cannot understand.

I blame my over-education for many other things ( for instance, I blame many years of forcible chapel-going for the fact that I am now a devout agnostic ) but that will give you an idea of how my law suit will be argued. I will let you know how I get on...

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Read Next

I don't blame parents who move to get their child into a good school

Chris Blackhurst
William Hague, addresses delegates at the Conservative party conference for the last time in his political career in Birmingham  

It’s only natural for politicians like William Hague to end up as journalists

Simon Kelner
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent