52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History Week 43 Worst School Subject

29 October 2011

Gunderson young familyI’m participating in the weekly Geneabloggers theme of 52 Weeks of Personal  Genealogy & History and sadly I don’t always get the time to do each week’s topic. This week is your worst school subject and I simply had to do this challenge. I only ever failed one school subject and that was Art. Personally I don’t think it should have been a compulsory subject in Year 8 because not everyone is artistic.

I’m a very practical kind of person and not all that patient and the idea of sitting around and sketching, drawing, painting and colouring never really did anything for me. So I attended the classes with no real development of any artistic skills and then time came for the final exam. We had to design, draw and paint a wallpaper for a bedroom and this was the late 1960s. At that period of my life I had already painted my room a striking purple with even darker purple trims and picture rails.

So as I sat there waiting for inspiration it finally came in the form of one of my true loves – the night sky, the moon and the stars. To me the black sky, the planets, moon and stars all looked fantastic on my exam painting and perhaps it was my best work as I was truly inspired.

However when the teachers (the art teacher had asked other teachers to also give their opinions) saw my work they did comment it might be a bit too dark in the room with black wallpaper. For someone living in a purple room it didn’t seem that dark to me but I did take their point. They did praise me for my vision, imagination and artistic skills but the exam was for a bedroom wallpaper and therefore it was the big F.It was the only F ever received and I don’t think I have ever drawn anything since.

Sitting here reliving that moment in my life reminds me of another teacher, my English teacher, who was forever telling me what a boring writer I was. I needed to get more interesting so I find it a bit ironic now that I spend a great deal of my time actually writing blogs, articles and books that other people actually like to read. When did I become interesting (and how)?

My final recollection on this impromptu theme of people’s negative comments, is where shortly after leaving high school in 1972, I applied for a job in a library and at the interview, the librarian in charge told me that I wouldn’t make a very good librarian. I’ve often wondered if it was the purple hair I had back then (I was always ahead of my time, now I would fit in very well!).

Ironically many years later I joined the staff of the John Oxley Library and that particular librarian was working at the State Library of Queensland too. Not long after I started she came up to me and said ‘I remember you’ and I replied that I remembered her and that long ago interview. We went on to do many genealogy events and desk rosters together and at one point I thought I might even try for her job when she eventually retired. That was not to be as I was lured back into archives by Queensland State Archives.

I’ve always believed we end up where we belong, doing what we should be doing – but how we get there is not always that clear. I wonder what they would think of me today (although I still colour my hair, wear makeup and have long painted nails) so perhaps not much has changed at all?


Shauna has been tracing her own family history since 1977 and is a Fellow of the Queensland Family History Society. In 2009 Shauna received the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO) Services to Family History Award for her achievements in Queensland, Canberra and Victoria.

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1 Comment

  1. Shauna, the difference is now you are writing about things in which you are interested and passionate about. Back then you were writing about topics you were given and the teacher may have been passionate about but probably not many others were!

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