No summary or shortening of the book can justify what the author himself has researched, dedicated his time towards. My chapter by chapter summary’s purpose is to create an audience who starts to see the importance of understanding history or perhaps take interest in reading such big heavy books.
I remember vividly, as a secondary school student, sulking over history lessons. My God, what a chore!
It was the most uninteresting and useless subject I had to attend as a teenager. I didn’t care at all. I was always inattentive, and even cheated in my mock exams for GCSEs. I was stressing over passing my history exam. I was an intelligent student although, I hardly ever used to study, and given it was my least favourite, ‘history exam’. I decided to write up the main notes. That was a lot of effort haha, hid them underneath my shirt and stuffed some up my sleeves for my mock exam day. However, my history teacher was an ex-army major, and that made it a telling tale.
It’s hard to remember how I had the courage and the audacity to cheat on his watch. I had the notes underneath my legs and feet. I was writing away all the answers, the plan was going well. Until, a lot of cheat papers were right in front of me, some under my thighs and some underneath my feet. I didn’t know how to stuff them all back inside, without attracting the attention of the ex-Major. Having come this far, I didn’t want to give up on my plan. I managed to get all the papers in a neat little bundle, and I was about to stuff them under my shirt, but the ex-major started marching towards me.
I froze! I thought he clocked me. I was devastated. Picturing all of this, I can feel a swarm of emotions I felt then. I gulped! I coughed! It was hard to breathe. My arms went heavy and knees went weak. It was like, the floor had vanished, and I was floating as a speck of dust. I became ‘nothing’ in that moment. My reputation as a top student was on the line.
School assembly headlines for next morning were ringing bells in my head.
Chiming, “A once honest and brilliant student, fallen to the lowest level! We want to announce this news in front of the school to make an example out of it. He will be marching in front of you all. The walk of shame begins NOW!”
I managed to clear my head of the anxiety and pressure I felt in that moment. I reacted to his footsteps! I threw away the ‘cheat notes’ underneath the seat in front of me. Silly! I know.
What made it feel even worse was, that the ex-major didn’t march towards me. He marched in my direction. Yes!
But he marched to catch another student who also happened to be copying off the answers from another student. His footsteps came to a halt!
I was so absorbed in my world, that I wasn’t looking around to find out who else was riding the wave with me. The student got caught red-handed, his exam cancelled. He was sent to the Headteacher’s office. As the student left, the ex-major looked towards me, smiled and surprisingly noticing the papers lying underneath the seat, from where the student had gotten up. He came closer, leaning towards that chair, he picked up the papers. He looked at me and saw the guilt in my eyes. Asked me, “Do you know, who these belong too?” Naively, I managed to stutter, “I don’t know, sir.”
He looked at the papers, the handwriting, and looked at my open answer sheet. He exclaimed, “Are you sure these are not yours?”
I replied, “Erm, the handwriting seems to be mine, but I don’t remember bringing the notes out of my bag sir.”
“Very well, if you don’t admit. We will have to investigate. However, under the given circumstances, it is my understanding, that these belong to you and that you will not be allowed to take this exam. Head to the principal’s office. I will see you there!
The walk of shame thus began, as I left the classroom, with my belongings. I questioned myself? Did I belong in that classroom after all that?
Haha, I know that it’s a rather sad and funny story looking back. To add to the comedy, I will tell you how the situation went ahead too. In short, at the principal’s office, I was scolded, told that wasn’t expected of me. However, being from the best students in class did save me. I was awarded 70% in the mock exam without having to cheat further and attempting a grueling history exam. I was over the moon.
That kind of had a positive impact on me. It made me think!
I thought to myself then, I wasn’t expected to act in such a way. I was expected to know stuff, know history. The ex-major who taught history and the two principals, who taught mathematics and geography concluded that, had I not cheated, I still would have passed the exam. So, to be strict, they awarded me 70% and said that they believed I would have scored higher, had it not been for the mishap of magically appearing notes. They didn’t accuse me of cheating. Instead, they done something powerful that changed my mindset just a little. A little, that I started studying history. A little that helped me score 89% in my History GCSEs.
Fast forward some 15 years, here I am reading different history books! Still trying to learn more. However, I understand its significance even more. So I will be sharing my blogposts here, it will help me keep my knowledge in an open place where I share it with others and perhaps, create an urge among the readers too, to understand it.