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Do you remember walking to school?

About DJC

The older I get, the less I know and the more inquisitive I get.

Unfortunately, despite a lifelong search, most of the answers elude me. That said, I love to ask the questions and fuel the debates that will ultimately lead us all to a better understanding of the big issues in life, the universe and everything.

They say that we spend 98% of our lives in our head. I for one would like to use that time as effectively as possible.

Walking the few kilometres to and from school used to be a favourite part of my day. That's not the case for today's kids.

When I was in primary school, I would rise at about 7.15am and by 8.30am, I would be out the door walking up two steep hills, then down two further streets to school.

I hated school, but felt free during the daily walk there and back.

I hated school, but felt free during the daily walk there and back. Picture: Shutterstock

At 3.30pm each day, the siren sounded and within five minutes, I was walking up two steep hills and down another two to home.

This happened each and every day of the school year, except when it was raining heavily. Even when it was raining gently, I would make the walk with my siblings, all of us in rain coats. And it was not because my parents could not drive me to school. It was because they viewed it as being in my best interest to walk.

I hated school. I hated everything about it, other than the walk there and back.

But I liked everything about that walk. I enjoyed the conversation with my siblings and friends, and communicating with the dogs I met. I enjoyed stealing an apple or two off the trees in the orchards along the way. I enjoyed throwing rocks at street signs. And I enjoyed being in the fresh air away from parents and teachers.

I also fondly remember stopping by at friends' places on the way home and enjoying some hospitality courtesy of a friendly mother. Sometimes, we even got to stay and watch a little telly before getting home where it was banned until after dinner. Fantastic!

There were also those occasions when a ‘big kid’ took the opportunity to cause me some grief, or a new dog in the street decided he did not like me. But even these were a source of lessons and stories to tell while enjoying the hospitality I just spoke of.

These experiences took place in a semi-rural outer suburb. I had similar experiences -- with flatter topography and no fruit to steal -- when I attended an inner-suburban primary school, where the walk to and from home was 20-30 minutes. 

In the suburbs though, we could stop into the local shop and buy 2c worth of mixed lollies or, if we were ‘lucky’, steal 5c worth. I suspect we viewed ourselves as 20th century Huckleberry Finns on yet another life adventure. We were constantly looking for adventures, which often meant causing havoc for local traders.

Sadly, such behaviour is uncommon these days.

Parents seem reluctant to allow their precious young to walk without supervision -- in the mistaken belief that crime rates are worse today that they were when we were children. Children would rather spend time on their computer or playing electronic games than walking in the sunshine.

Toorak tractors line up morning and night at schools, while the parents play ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ while letting the children convert breakfast and lunch convert into fat.

Do you remember walking to school?

Do you remember the fun you had along the way?

Do you remember the disappointment of graduating to high school and having to catch the bus? That is at least until you discovered the pleasures of nicotine and the suitability of the bus for a smoke and a snog on the way home! I remember that very well.

Walking to school was fun. Sadly, it is a fun that many children are denied today!

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