Thursday, December 06, 2018

Did you Dux? Or, the Tale of the Red Chair...

Based on my own personal anecdata, (early 80s Year 7) Dux was definitely based on teacher preference.

I went to a TINY school that received most teachers based on demerit .

On the rare occasion that we lured a good one, they were looking for us, and we them.  When you live in a small community, the worth of a good schoolteacher is valued.

However, we had form.  Apparently the town was mentioned in State Parliament in the 1950s for the local walkout by families in reaction to such indifferent teachers.

Thommo came to the school when I was in Year 6.  In my year, there were 5 students.  There was (using our Charlie's Angels names) Sabrina, Kelly, Bosley, Kris and Jill .  In the year above us, there was one girl, in the year below, one girl.  There were 20 students in the whole school - counting the pre-schooler.
The first year Thommo was there (and every year prior to that for at least 30 years) there was no dux.

The second year - mine and Thommo's final year - Thommo decided he would create a Dux award.

Now, all 5 of us had been together for 7 years of schooling.  We KNEW our order of academic progress -  Sabrina, Kelly, Bosley, Kris and Jill - every single time. 

Thommo had brought with him from the city a few quaint beliefs.

An abhorrence of Queensland, the bush and its people - which did make things a tad uncomfortable.

A desire to teach such savages Australian Rules Football (or aerial ping-pong as we locally referred to it) - he was deep in Polocrosse, Campdrafting and Rugby League territory.

Motorcycling for fun.  Yeah.  In a community that valued topsoil because where it wasn't that, it was granite and angular, and by the way it HURT a lot if your horse dropped you - but at least that bugger would walk home.  You had to PUSH a motorcycle.

And Thommo held a rigid belief in intellectual superiority of males.  How ridiculous!!!  We all knew THAT was BS.  We had all grown up with our mothers being the brains and our fathers being the instruments of each farming enterprise.  Some of our fathers didn't even know how to talk to kids, let alone crack a book or think about numbers.  That was what mothers were great at.  That and organising stuff.  Thommo didn't think so.

So Thommo's parting shot to a community that had not been warm to his presence for that and so many more transgressions was the installation of the Dux award.  I think perhaps to cement his posterity in the region.

Thommo awarded the Dux to Bosley.

We all cheered for Bosley, of course - he was a good bloke and we had all grown up together.

But we were (in order) Sabrina, Kelly, Bosley, Kris and Jill.

The eyeroll of parents and students alike caused seismic sensation at the school.

Our parting shot to Thommo was a gift-wrapped Red Chair.

The Red Chair had been the Little Room's birthday chair prior to Thommo's arrival.  On the day when you got to celebrate YOUR day, you got to be a special person for the day in The Red Chair.  You got to choose activities, Mrs Hockey baked you a cake and let you help wash up.  It was pretty special.

Thommo made it a pretty special chair too.  Thommo installed this chair on the upstairs verandah outside of his office.

"The Red Chair"

Anyone who was the first to rise Thommo's ire on any morning (and every morning) would get detention upon The Red Chair.

I must admit, whether consciously or subconsciously, it seems that I volunteered myself most days for this pleasure.

I did not take Thommo's views silently, not with a mother like mine.

So  our parting shot to Thommo was a gift-wrapped Red Chair.  We solemnly presented his special piece of furniture for him to take to the next poor school he had been demoted to.

We figured the kids of Coen may need it.