First, the curriculum. Basically, the curriculum is a collection of subjects of all kinds. We have a thing called the National Curriculum, so people all over England (do you still have England, I wonder, or are you part of some great new European state?) all take the same subjects. It starts with English and mathematics and science, which everybody has to take right through to the age of 16. Lucky us – I love English, and mathematics is not too bad, but I could do with some rather more exciting science. Somehow we hardly ever seem to get to do real experiments.
We also do history, geography, religious studies and languages, as well as technology, art and music. There is really quite a lot to take in, I suppose, and we still have some old-fashioned things called examinations to see how much we have learnt. I hope for your sakes that these are now obsolete.
One of the best things about school is sport, though. We now have a fantastic range of possibilities on offer. In our parents’ days, all they did was rugby and cricket, but we have a really good range of team and individual sports, and our school has a great sports hall and large playing fields. You may have seen these when you came to dig up the school. They placed the capsule right underneath the sports hall, which is where we play badminton and tennis and do gymnastics, weight-training and climbing. Sport is the best part of the week. My favourite is golf, since I think I am more of an individualist than team player, and rugby has a habit of giving you nasty injuries, whereas the chance of being struck on the head by a golf ball is quite remote. Do you know about golf? If not, the idea of whacking a small white ball all over the countryside and trying to get it into a tiny hole may seem slightly bizarre. But I love it. It’s great being out in the open. Come to think of it, we even have electronic games where you can play golf without ever having to leave the house. But what’s the point of that? Sport should be a real challenge, not a virtual waste of time.
Now for the very difficult subject of school rules. Of course, everyone likes to hate rules, and to protest that they are just a violation of our freedom. But I am rather old-fashioned about this, and reckon that if everyone thinks they can do whatever they like, in the end nobody can do what they want. The worst rules are about what we wear. For some weird reason, it has been decided that everyone has to look like everyone else – like ‘clones’. We have only just started cloning animals. Who knows, by your time you may all be clones of some idealized brainy and super-fit person. I do hope not, because, like I said, I am a bit of an individualist. I don’t see why anybody should make me wear a bright green blazer and a horrible stripy tie, so that I can look like everyone else in my class. Uniform, I hate it.
There are some sensible rules though, and the best one is that the most important thing is respect and tolerance, and treating everyone else like we would wish to be treated. I can’t see how anyone can object to these rules, and I hope that your society still believes in them
So that’s just a little glimpse into our school life. You probably wonder what I think about school. We have a saying that ‘school days are the happiest days of your life’. Of course, I can’t really comment on that, since school days are all I can remember! But I guess on balance it is not so bad, and no two days are exactly the same.
I hope that this has made you think about what life at school was like for the students of my generation and that my letter has reached out to you across the years.
Your friend from the past, Joe
This is a lively and interesting letter, written in an appropriate style. The suggestions in the question have been have been included and the answer is sustained and well structured. The writing is accurate and the sentence structure varied.
After six days shipwrecked and living at the mercy of the tumultuous sea alone in a tiny raft, the hard weedy sand under my feet was as welcome as a Starbucks café. I never thought I would do it, but as soon as I had crawled out of the water, I dropped to my knees and kissed the white salty beach below me.
Tiny black crabs scuttled for shelter under the sun-bleached rocks that encircled the small cove I had landed in. From the position of my shadow and the glaring sun overhead, I judged it to be mid day, though the days on the raft had started to stretch into an unimaginable epoch. Exhausted and relieved, with the sound of the gentle sea behind me and the breezes gusting through the palm trees in front lulling me, I merely sat on my knees and took it all in.
Up above the small beach I sat upon was a dark rocky horseshoe-shaped outcropping; it would provide a good shelter. Beyond that, a dense forest of palms and other fruit trees swayed lackadaisically in the island breezes. The bright yellow dates hanging in great bunches beckoned me, making my mouth water with the thought of their flavour - heavy, robust, sweet dates, hanging there like beacons.
Just then the tranquility was shattered by a whizzing that shot past my ear. Was it an insect? Another whiz and a stinging sharp pain in my thigh - instinctually I smacked at it, but it was no wasp. My hand knocked a home-made dart out of my leg, which was followed by a rivulet of blood.
Shooting my eyes around among the trees and rocks, I could not see my assailants, but no more darts came. I did, however, hear voices speaking in a strange language made up of sounds I did not recognise. The gurgles and booms they spoke sounded like many wounded soldiers crying out in a WWII hospital dorm.
My vision was becoming blurred and my ears muffled, but at last they approached me, the people of this island. A small gang of perhaps ten men, dark skinned like myself, but less hairy; tall, lanky, with long legs and arms that swung down like tree branches, their bodies bare except for animal-skin loin cloths and painted red ochre and white ash geometric designs on their chests and faces, and vicious pointed bones jabbed through their ear lobes and noses.
As the apparent leader, with a mass of black feathers woven into his shock of ruddy hair, poked at me with a pointed stick, I passed out.