As a child, I had a talent in the linguistic field.I was able to write four page-long stories – flawless – and read fluently, memorize long poems in no time.
My parents hardly had schooling (war) and didn’t want me to go to a grammar school, even though a teacher was at home with us.After a long time I was allowed to go to secondary school.
There was a teacher I will never forget: older, ice-grey hair tied to the knot, always a white blouse – and a huge frog green bag.
She spoke to all the children by first name, except my girlfriend and me.We came from the miners’ settlement and were called by the last name. We had German and mathematics with her.
As good as I was in German, I was so bad at maths.This seemed to please her and to reinforce her opinion that children of the underclass are “just stupid”.
There was a reading competition of the secondary schools in NRW and our school was allowed to participate.She called some to the board to read the text written there. I didn’t even get to the middle of the headline when I heard “Kuhn, sit!” “That’s not enough,”” he said. I was shaken.
But it got worse.One day we should write an essay in class with the topic “At home”. After that, it was read aloud. All the girls told of their fathers, who were doctors or lawyers, of business mail and planned trips, of the food that the mother cooked and served to the father, of friendly entertainment and questions about the children…
I wrote how it was with us: the father came from the p眉tt (miner), the remaining potatoes from lunch were fried for him, he lay down on the couch and snorted when my mother told him that he had mail from his sister from Leipzig (which he had at the last 14 n times) – and we children had to be quiet.
When the other girls read aloud, I hoped so much that I wouldn’t be called.But: “And, Kuhn – what about you?” I was so ashamed that I read out a great essay. I invented it while staring into my booklet, adorned it. “Repeat the last sentence and say how you set the commas!” whoosh! To this day, I cannot answer this when someone asks: You, can you say the sentence from earlier? It was really apt! Even with positive encouragement not – gone. So I stuttered something. “Kuhn, bring your booklet forward!” And then she read out my essay, with a voice dripping with ugliness, laughing badly in some places. And the class laughed along.
I was in a mess of shame, anger, despair, sadness.It got worse.
She wrote a “blue letter” to my parents.I had the mailbox key, we were key children. I hid the letter and invented stories. When my mother found the letter, “What does she think? I can’t just miss out on work! Tell her that!”
But: That was the end of my schooling there.My father turned around again – and after the Pentecost holidays I was back at my old school. Because I had just lied. And later, when I wanted to go to a secondary school after finishing elementary school, it was always said: You could have had that at that time, but you lied – now watch! Well.
But: It has strengthened my sense of justice even more and 2. I have never had children write such essays as “At home” or “My most beautiful holiday experience”.