If I sound oldish in this piece, it is probably because I am not too young any longer. I am at an age where I wish God would fast forward things and get us past the era of "house" and R&B music.
I look back and understand why my parents would regale me and my siblings about "the good old days" when we were growing up.
My good old days were when the worst that pupils could do to poke fun at teachers was harmless, respectful fun.
But then we had great, dedicated teachers who did their darned best under extremely difficult conditions. Who can ever forget old man Mr Moru, bless his soul, who taught Afrikaans in Sesotho?
"Ntshang di huiswerkboek tsa lona le shebeng di voegwoord. Ha le qeta le etse di voorbereidings tsa toets ya hosane. Ke le file voorbeeld hore le etse di verbeterings ." - Take out your homework books and look at prepositions. After that prepare for tomorrow's test. I gave you an example for your corrections.
Do you wonder why so many of us are hopeless in Afrikaans? But we had fun.
For example, in my school, no teacher made the mistake of saying "err ." while addressing students. Every "err ." was met with a booming response hum of "hmmm" from the student body, often the entire assembly.
The teachers hated it and were embarrassed, but to us it was real fun.
Another favourite pastime was to ambush teachers who expected us to finish their sentences.
A teacher would say something like: "The animal is called a hippopo ...?" expecting us to finish the word and say "hippopotamus".
No. We would respond by saying in unison: "The hippopo!"
Teacher: "The first Dutchman in the Cape was Jan van Rie .?"
Class: "Jan van Rie!"
We tortured the teachers thus, but they kept falling into it without fail.
Compare that with a story I heard recently of a boy in the same neighbourhood. It is as hair-raising as it is true.
As he sat for his final matric exam, he took out a firearm, put it on the desk and in full view of the invigilator and other pupils, took out a textbook to crib the answers.
The invigilator did not even alert the principal, I hear, let alone confront the scumbag. All he could say afterwards was: "I am not going to die for shit."
l The writer is the editor of Sunday World.