Friday, 29 April 2016

LifeBook Week 18: Reframing Your Story

I was going to complete a couple of LifeBook lessons that had I skipped over Easter, but when I saw this week's lesson by Effy Wild, I was so inspired that I had to do it straight away.

This lesson consists of two pages: a "skeleton page", which contains a possibly traumatic experience from our past, and the main page showing how we have overcome the negative effects of this past experience. The story is written in a continuous, scribble fashion, which makes it impossible to read, but has a great visual impact as a background for the the main page. I would like to share my story here on my blog, as I think it may have influenced my entire life. This will be a little long-winded, so feel free to skip to the photos at the end of this post.

My story

Like for many of us, my story goes back to my childhood. When I was about 9 or 10, in year four at primary school, I had a teacher who was a bully. There's no other way to describe her. I didn't realize at the time that she was a bully, because children don't question adults - they just accept their authority. To this day, I find it hard to believe that back then, in 1979, it was possible for a teacher to treat young children like she did.

Every now and then she would pick on one of us and humiliate us in front of the class for no reason at all, other than she must have hated children. She called it "being on stage". We would single someone out, who had to stand up while she told them how useless they were and how stupid they looked. I remember once she told me "if you could see yourself now" with disgust in her voice at which point one one of my classmates produced a mirror from her bag and shoved it my face. You don't ever forget something like that and it has a huge impact on your self-image. A couple of weeks later, she would move on to bully someone else and you were glad that it wasn't you anymore.

Sometimes the whole class got punished (for god knows what) and she would make us stand in silence for the entire lesson. We obviously didn't do any learning while this was going on.

In our traditional classrooms back then, we had the desks arranged in three columns: one next to the window, one in the middle of the room and one by the wall. She would put the "bright" kids in the "light" next to the window - I'm using her own words here! - the "medium" kids in the middle, and the "dumb" kinds in the "darkness". I'm not kidding! It wouldn't take long for a kid to realise that in a class of 30, there were only enough seats for 10 bright kids by the window, so if you had been relegated to the darkness, you had no chance of ever being promoted.

I still find it incredible that she got away with this! She never should have been allowed to teach children, or anyone else, for that matter. The funny thing is that the parents were in awe of her - they thought she was the best thing since sliced bread. I have no idea what image she projected of herself during the parent-teacher conferences, but it was obviously very different from reality.

I wonder what I would say to her if I was to see her again. She must have retired by now - she was in her twenties when all this took place, at the very beginning of her career. I would like to know what happened to her. I think her methods were misguided at best, and sometimes downright abusive. I wonder how much negative impact she had on children's development and how much psychological damage she caused throughout her teaching career. I certainly feel that my self-worth and self-confidence suffered a great deal as a result of her actions.

Of course, this happened a long-long time ago. I have since had many positive experiences as well to counterbalance the negative influences, which moulded me into the person that I am today. Granted, I'm not the most self-confident person in the world, but I know I'm good enough, which, incidentally, is the title of my page!

My Page

I followed the instructions rather closely for this lesson. However, instead of a human skeleton, I used an image of a skeleton leaf. To me, a leaf signifies a person's life - the veins being all the experiences we go through, both good and bad, intertwined throughout our lifetime.

I used the same colours as Effy on my main page: copper, gold, green gold, quinacridone nickel azo gold and burnt orange. At first, my page looked a bit flat, as there's not much contrast between some of these colours, but the outlining and a little shading made a lot of difference. The dots were made with Perfect Pearls.

This has been a very cathartic experience for me - thanks Effy for such a meaningful lesson! Here's the page I made built around my story.


If you're interested in joining  LifeBook, check out this link. Tam's already working on LifeBook 2017, but it's still not too late to sign up for 2016! 

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