I have been checking in every now and then and have noticed that the thread seems to have stalled – not much added recently. So I thought I would kick off a topic along the lines of “What did St Mungo’s ever do for me” and see if we get any good memories triggered from that.
I was at the Mungo from 1962 to 1968 in the “nB1” class:- Kennedy Street for prep, St Kent’s for first through third years, and Parson Street for fourth through sixth. My experience was typical – a mixed bag of craziness, great teaching, learning, and disturbing violence – much like the sixties were in general. There are many articles elsewhere on this site doing a great job of describing those times.
Education – Did I actually learn anything?
The principal job of St Mungo’s was to educate, or frighten into learning , sufficient numbers of reasonably intelligent Catholic youth and send them off to colleges and universities and improve the overall standing of Catholics in Scotland. They pretty much did that though there were too many casualties in the process.
In my case, I was an OK student. My old man was a teacher and I made the mistake of getting some coaching from him before a second year interim set of exams. To my astonishment, I passed all the “swots” and actually led the class for that set of exams. After receiving my fair share of crap, I made sure I would not do too well from that point onwards. Lesson learned – “lower the expectations and then exceed them when you choose”.
An aside on that time. Another writer commented about Bro Adrian, a geography teacher, “dropping pearls before swine”. When Bro Adrian said he was “dropping pearls”, that meant that there was going to be an exam question on that topic. If you made a note of the “pearl” items, studied them, ignored the rest of the curriculum, you could do very well in your exam. Lesson learned – “pay attention to the clues”.
Our “B” class was assigned Greek instead of Latin as some kind of experiment. However, back in those days, if you wanted to do any kind of “Arts” degree at Glasgow University then you needed an “O” level in Latin. I had no idea what I wanted to do so, keeping my options open, I became a reluctant classics student. I was no more than adequate but had some excellent classics teachers including McConville and one of the elderly Brogan brothers, one of the smartest people I have ever met. I did not continue with classics but did a degree in Computer Science and became a computer programmer – if you can learn Latin, Greek, French etc then the computer languages follow. Lesson learned – “basic skills are adaptable and transferrable”.
I learned a valuable lesson from a “creative writing” exercise set by our English teacher. He assigned us to write essays on various topics. I was assigned to write about “nicknames”. It started out quite dull as I used my own “wee Doc” as an example. Of course, there was a “wee Doc” in every class in Glasgow at the time. I then branched on to the “Spuds” and the “Gingers” – still pretty boring. So then I had a brainwave or brainfart depending on point of view, and took some real nicknames and came up with totally fictitious explanations of why the person had the nickname. Some of these descriptions were not very complimentary at all and basically extracted the urine, sometimes from rather large members of the class. Imagine my surprise and panic when the teacher decided that he would read some of the essays to the class and chose mine, indicating that he thought it would be entertaining for the class. Luckily enough, most of the insulted took it in pretty good spirits though a few were somewhat unhappy. Lesson learned –“Do not write down your smart assed thoughts” – either in an class essay, an email or Twitter, something for politicians to consider.
Did anyone else learn anything at the Mungo?