16.01.2007 15:39 - Ritmans ITA
My parents were very conscientious about my education. They taught me how to read before I went to school.
Where I first went to school, they employed Ritman's ITA. That's "Intermediate Teaching Alphabet" or, to the poor sods who got taught it, "Interminably Tediously Anal".
This was basically a phoenetic alphabet meant make life simpler for the thicker kids. Given that my home town wasn't exactly on a par with Oxford or Cambridge for its production of literary geniuses or atomic physicists, I suppose it was a fair point.
However, for those of us who had been taught real alphabet, it was a tedious and painful exercise in the fact that someone who was supposed to know better than you, actually didn't have a sodding clue at all. Now, to someone who'd managed about half of "Swiss Family Robinson", going back to "Peter and Jane" making a big thing out of running after a ball was a bit of a disappointment, especially when you were constantly told that everything you had learned was wrong. In retrospect, I imagine many of the teachers were a bit pissed off with ITA as well. You only had to look at Mrs. Humby's fixed grin when someone spelt something in the "adult" way as she said "No, Philip, that's how we spell it in grown-up writing" to detect more than a slight amount of irritation. What made it even more confusing was the inclusion of books such as those from the fabled (and, frankly, brilliant) Dr. Seuss in our classroom library, which weren't written in ITA, but were extremely hard to get hold of, as Dr. Seuss seemed to think that all that bollocks about running and throwing balls was for complete retards, and the young mind demanded stimulation in the form of exquisitely chapeaued felines - something on which the entire class agreed. We also thought green eggs and ham sounded a lot better diet than what was served up as school dinners, which always seemed to be based around interminable amounts of cabbage, and parsnips carefully boiled until they tasted like wood.
However, it got even worse.
Once we moved to the Junior school up the road, we were considered big enough to write "grown-up". Wow! We're allowed to do grown-up spelling, I thought. Surely X-rated films, pornography and Pub visits are only a matter of weeks away?!
Alas, no. The tedium of re-learning to spell everything in a shrunken alphabet was nothing compared to the hours wasted on re-educating the thicker kids, who had only just gotten used to ITA. Time wasted on this stuff? Six years.
Progressive education? Ha.