School for me

It was into this situation that I in 1941 went to school with my two elder sisters. Krista, three years ahead, and Hanne one year ahead. I had decided however that I had no intention of losing my relative freedom on the farm. My sisters could teach me all  I needed. I had become very adept at climbing trees and on the said day I climbed to the very top of the highest tree on the farm and refused to go to school. I do not know exactly what the bribery was but I was eventually told that I should at least try and see if I liked it. I agreed provided my elder sister would stay with me in the class. This she did but after a few minutes the teacher asked her to go and I never missed a day at school! The teacher asked if I knew the alphabet, of course my sisters had taught me

and I reeled off ABC etc. but he also wanted to know what the letters looked like and how to write them so I found I did need to learn something. I was quite good at arithmetic and I think I learned lessons easily so we could repeat it to the teacher the following school day. After school it was back to the farm and our chores, feeding, milking, etc. but there was also time to play and since a child was born every 18 months there was always somebody to play with.

We were 9 children who started in class one in 1941, three girls, Inga, Inga and Ella and six boys, Hartvig, Peder, Erik (my cousin), Svend, Aage, Eigil and myself. We all had black slate tablets and pencils to practice writing and arithmetic. Our teacher Mr. Nielsen was a gentle person so it was quite a shock to go the second and third class to Miss Christensen

We each took a tin box of sandwiches with us for lunch which we ate  outside except in winter when we could eat inside the classroom. I was not a great fighter in the playground nor was I a good runner. My skills were more in the classroom but I had stiff competition from Erik and Hartvig. When I went to second class I decided it was time to have a girl-friend and I chose Hanne, a girl   in the first class. We ate together in the playground but we were teased a lot and I gave it up. When I entered the older classes we had moved to Østergaard which was only about 300 m away from the school. While classes 4 and 5 were still taken by Miss Christensen, 6 and 7 were taken by the new headmaster Mr. Iversen. He was not nearly as good a teacher as Mr. Nielsen. He was a farmer turned teacher and could get very angry and lose control. On one occasion in arithmetic some girls had come up to get assistance from the teacher and he made a mistake in something we boys had already done. I made a remark to my friends that the teacher was not very clever which unfortunately he heard. I was taken out and beaten and kicked. I had blood on my knees etc. I told my mother I had fallen on the road but, a friend told her that I had been beaten by the teacher and she went to see him but I did not have the courage to tell her that what I said was not polite! On another occasion he beat up my brother Verner who shouted so much that my father heard it where he was working in a field close to the school. He went to the school and asked him to take more control  of himself.

During the last winter at school we also had to take preparation classes for Confirmation with the priest Pastor Norlund Christensen. On the whole all of us

longed to leave school, be confirmed into the Lutheran faith and get out to be involved in farming everyday. What was the point of spending more time in school if farming was all you wanted to do?. An opinion my father reiterated but my mother was not so sure. She had been a folk high school for three months in her youth and this had given her a different attitude. My father never did and his schooling I am sure was a lot worse than mine. So in 1948 I left school having attended for seven years

every other day. In my opinion at the time that was far too long! In fact the last two years were boring and we learned little. Miss Christiensen though strict was a good teacher for pupils above average I think, but for the less able I fear she may have left many with  deep psychological scars.