I can. It was Friday. I was eight. This task set the agenda for the weekend. The whole family got involved: my father participated from the bath; my mother chimed in through the window from the garden; my younger brother asked what all the fuss was about. I listened and I learned. I was to remember the learning outcomes from this homework for a lifetime.
Our task was to compile a list of as many proverbs as we could. The race was on. The homework caught my parents imagination; they were firing expressions at me left, right and centre. I was catching them as best I could, writing them down and asking what they meant. I was captivated by the idea that a simple expression could be universally understood as meaning something other than the words on the page.
I remember writing them frantically, thinking I would surely have the most in the class. I arrived at school on the Monday morning brandishing a list of around 130. I was pipped at the post by my friend, Kate, who had beaten me by an astonishing twenty proverbs!
Now, as an adult, I use proverbs in conversation as a mutually understood shorthand. The acceptance of metaphorical expressions invoked in proverb use can be used to cut to the chase, disagree, enhance or redirect a conversation in a manner that is acceptable, inoffensive and colourful.
Can you remember some school homework that has stayed with you into adulthood? Has something you learned at the age of eight stayed with you for a lifetime? I would love to hear your stories…
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