chapter  24
9 Pages

Dog Rice and Cultural Dissonance

The first foreign language that I was ever taught was Latin. I attended the local Catholic boys’ school in a mining town in the semi-arid interior of Australia. After my mother’s death, I was going through her rather meager possessions and came across my school report cards. I have no idea why she kept these. They did not paint a particularly flattering portrait of me as a young student. (“David is a distraction to himself and all those around him.”) One fact that did surprise me however was the number of students in the class-86. It never struck me or, as far as I know it, any of my classmates that this was at all unusual. We did not consider ourselves to be victims of “the large class” syndrome. Class sizes of 80 to 90 students were the norm, although they must have been hell for our teacher, the Marist Brothers and lay teachers. I realize now why we were mostly addressed as “boy” or “you”—they simply didn’t have the head space to remember all of our names.