12 May 2017

Age quod agis

St Ignatius of Loyola
(1491 - 1556)
The Ursuline convent school to which I went had a school motto, Age Quod Agis (Do What You Do). We were told that this meant one should do everything as well as possible. For example, the inscriptions in books for the prize-giving were written by the art mistress with a special pen for doing italic writing. At a state school, by contrast, I saw some prize books with the recipient’s name simply scribbled in.

At the same state school I saw some exam papers which had been used in end-of-term exams. They were carelessly photocopied, skew on the page with some of the material cut off, and not all of what was on the page was legible. There were some scribbled corrections to make up for the deficits in the photocopying.

At this state school, when you needed a textbook, the teacher took you to a small room where there were shelves full of dilapidated books, and fished around to find some of the least dilapidated for you to use.

At the convent school, all the books in the school were kept in prime condition. Girls would stay behind after school to spend time repairing books.

At the same state school it once happened that a teacher had wrongly marked the work of one of the girls. When it was pointed out to her by the girl in question, the teacher said cheerfully, ‘Nobody will mind about it in a hundred years’ time’.

This attitude, that it did not matter at all whether your marks were good or bad, or whether teachers marked correctly, was very different from the attitude at the Ursuline convent school. Here, there were what they called ‘degree ceremonies’ every few weeks, and the girls lined up in front of the Reverend Mother to have their marks and positions in the form read out.

The ceremonies took place in the school hall and were preceded by rehearsals. Each class was shown where to sit along the sides of the hall. The girls were then called out, class by class, to be shown where to stand in front of the Reverend Mother. Then the positions of the girls in the line were adjusted by one of the nuns, so that the tallest was in the middle and the other girls fell away from her on either side, decreasing in height.

* The first use of the injunction age quod agis is attributed to St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.

I appeal for financial and moral support in improving my position.
I need people to provide moral support both for fund-raising, and as temporary or possibly long-term workers. Those interested should read my post on interns.