Don’t Be Like Me, A Blunting Pencil

Reading time: 3
shutterstock_175759085 a child has made a mistake while writing and is holding a pencil and erasing on white notebook paper


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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Did you reach your full potential at school?

As a school-boy, in terms of benchmarks grades, I failed my English examination. I struggled with syntax, phonics, and so forth. I found English literature A-level incredibly difficult. Please keep in mind that this was written for pleasure and does not form part of an examination or specification. I wrote it in 1997 – this version went viral; mine didn’t. The poem has been posted in its original form.

Education. Hmm, a strange thing! Growing up; it doesn’t mean a thing. History, French, biology; who needs it? Just boring lessons; just keep it. Mrs. Hicks tells you, “You’ve ‘gotta be quiet” when you’re not to blame, you panic. Threatened with the cane; you tremble, while others laugh when you’re unable.

Out on the corridor is where you relax. Mixing with the lads, thinking ‘you don’t need that’. Chewing on your gum and writing on the wall; hiding in the toilets when the freak comes along. Smokin’ in the back room, drinking in the hall; eyes fixed on girls you’ve been dying to call. Dares made, it’s the rules of the gang; you’ll lose your credit, you wanna be a man?

Photo Credit: Richard Stewart James Gaston via Compfight
Photo Credit: Richard Stewart James Gaston via Compfight

Playing tricks on the swot you make a fool outta him; just to be admired, that’s no big thing. The last bell goes your fun is over. Detention time with ‘Mr. Pavlova’. Your mom gets suspicious, every night you’re late. Say you’ve ‘been hanging out wit’ some mates’. Your ex-has called, she’s been missing your lovin’; you don’t need her, ‘cos drugs is your one thing.

Hmm. Education. Who needs it? I’ve got a better life on the streets; it’s fun; all alone, no time with school. I won’t grow up; I wanna look cool. Time goes by I’ve no money in my pockets. That swot in school (s) got cash in his wallet. Driving past in his flash, red car; ignorant as I stand by this open fire.

Photo Credit: Ed Callow via Compfight
Photo Credit: Ed Callow via Compfight

City life, hey, it’s tough at night; You gotta watch out or you’re in a fight. Sleeping out rough, thinking of my childhood; Boy! I wanna go back, I only wish I could. Education! Hmm … a ‘don’t waste it. Life is hard when you don’t make it. Dying for a fix, needing hot cocoa. A cut on my eye and a bruise on my ankle.

My life’s a mess thinking I should end it; what’s my life for? Can God not amend it? All alone, there’s no-one to care; someone walks by and offers a prayer. Dressed in a uniform, preaching some gospel. Maybe I should listen or remain being hostile?

What the hell! Oh, I don’t care. A chance to change. Great; yeah, but it’s unfair! I don’t deserve it. Look, I’m a failure. If I’d listened to Mrs.Hicks, I’d prevent another seizure …

The old story; well life’s too short! You learn your lesson once then you’ve had your lot. So, don’t waste time thinking English is boring. Sit a little while. Listen; stop snoring. A quarter of your life you can’t judge so much. Hang on in there; take a hard punch. Learn in life, the use of your utensils; don’t be like me, a blunting pencil.

Written by Ross Morrison McGill (1990).

I inscribed this composition when I was 17 years old. Not only does this mean that I have managed to hold on to this original poem/document for 23 years, but personally, it allows me to share my own starting point in creative writing.

Today, I have managed to write six books and over 1,000 blog posts on this website. I’d be quite happy studying English all over again.


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