My Schooldays

The Scotsman (Edinburgh, Scotland), Feb 3, 1999


Where did you go to school?

My schooling began at Uig primary on the Isle of Skye. Our headmaster, a Free Church elder, was subject to periodic religious brainstorms. Secondary school, 15 miles away in Portree, was large and relatively impersonal. The headmaster liked to work himself into a foul mood before administering beltings, the harder to hit. Later, he shot himself.

Did you like school?

I did not like primary school. At secondary I lost interest in every subject except English and art. In Fourth Year, I stopped wearing socks for about a year, though nobody seemed to notice. At the end of that year I left.

Did they like you?

I had friends at school, and got on reasonably with most of my teachers, but being bespectacled and decidedly not anorexic was also subject to the attention of jokers and bullies.

What subjects do you like to think you were good at?

I did well in English and reasonably well in art. Gaelic and geography were also on my plus list.

What did you want to be when you completed your education? I spent most of my childhood dreaming of going to sea. At the age of 16, I enrolled at a maritime college in Greenock, but the course proved every bit as disastrous as school had been.

What important things have you learned outside your formal education?

Most of the important things I've learned came from sources outside the classroom. In my first year away from school, I discovered that if you laugh at yourself first, that makes it very difficult for others to have fun at your expense.

Were there any teachers you particularly admired?

I have met many admirable teachers. "Miss" Ross, our infant teacher, and the affable gamekeeper's wife, must have laid the groundwork for something.

Further or higher education?

Further education is a perpetual state, is it not?

Are there aspects of your education you wish had been different?

On the one hand, I'd change most aspects of the education I received; on the other, the person I am now is, to whatever degree, the product of that education.

Aonghas MacNeacail is a Gaelic writer and poet, named Stakis Scottish Writer of the year in 1997

COPYRIGHT 1999 Johnston Publishing Ltd.
COPYRIGHT 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning

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