"Good Morning Miss Mistlethwaite!"
Year 6 spent a wonderful day at Reading Museum and became Victorian children for the time they were there. We were all given Victorian names; ours were Bert Wakenshaw and Horace Willet. We met our schoolteacher, Miss Mistlethwaite, but we had to call her ma’am. As we stepped through the classroom doors and onto the creaky wooden floor we went back in time to 1885. There were enormous windows in the room to let in the light because there was no electricity in Victorian times.
The doors closed and our teacher became as fierce as a lion, we are obedient and perfectly behaved. “Good morning Miss Mistlethwaite!” we sing before sitting down when she gives us the cue. Our knees are trembling as we squeezed into our cramped rows. The register is called and we stand to answer “present please ma’am.” “Hands on the desk. I want to check your fingernails!” Miss Mistlethwaite took great delight in pointing out who hadn’t washed their hands and how cleanliness was next to godliness. The blackboard was covered with beautifully chalk-drawn sums and the back brace and dunce cap are in full view for those who cannot sit properly or work to the required standard.
“Repeat after me,” said Miss Mistlethwaite,
"Good, better, best
never let it rest
until your good is better
and your better best!"
We all chant together. Miss Mistlethwaite, her glasses and cane making her all the more frightening shouted “Sit up straight boy!” and whacked my desk with her stick. It is as if electricity shoots through each of us and we all sit up perfectly straight. “A child who attends the school every day without any absence for a month will receive a certificate, and one who does so for an entire year will receive a medal. This will be useful to show employers that one is punctual, healthy and hardworking.” Said Miss Mistlethwaite, you could hear a pin drop, we are all so quiet.
Monitors hand out the slates and we begin to copy off the board. Miss Mistlethwaite inspects the work. “That’s wrong! Rub it out! Start again!” Our slate board pens squeak terribly on the slate boards and we are all frightened of being told off. When we have shown that we can write on our slates we are given copybooks with dip pen and ink. The nibs make a scratching sound and it was very easy to blot our copybook. Isabella Mitchell did and had to stand on the stool in the corner with the dunce’s hat on.
After an hour Miss Mistlethwaite transported herself back into the present century and we could become modern day St Gabriel’s girls once more. We had a really interesting experience that we will all remember and it has helped us a lot with our History projects.
Kate Eastwick Jones and Poppy Parker. 6S