Chastity, patent shoes and phone books: convent advice to live your life by.

By Aisling | June 26 2012 | 43 Comments

“Now girrrrlls” Sister Assumpta Mary would trill, settling herself on her chair.

“Today we’re talking about BOYS and the DANGER you are in with them!”

She would write BOYS! DANGER! on the blackboard.  Cue sniggering in the back of the classroom.

“Margaret O’Reilly are you finding something funny, you Duncey Dee?  Come up here to me and we’ll soon see what’s funny”.

“Now” she would continue, having restored classroom order “We’re going to talk about dances.  Boys at dances only want ONE THING.  You must be ALERT.  And you must not give it to them. God is watching you”.

DANCES! joined boys and danger on the blackboard.

We knew God was watching us and tut tutting over our every move, like Santa Claus does to naughty children.  It didn’t stop Assumpta Mary from telling us at least once a month though.


“Patent shoes.  That’s the first thing.  Boys can see the reflection of your knickers in them”

We were incredulous, but she was firm.  “They can.  There are to be no patent shoes.”

“Phone book.  That’s the second thing.  You must always bring a phone book with you to the dances.  If you have to sit on a boys knee you must put the phonebook on his lap first.  Otherwise he could become excited – and THE SIN WOULD BE YOUR FAULT!”

But eventually she would swish out and as soon as Sister left the classroom a crude drawing of a willy would join the words on the blackboard.

I’m not saying who put it there.

Life , , ,

43 Replies to "Chastity, patent shoes and phone books: convent advice to live your life by."

  • Scarie says:

    Lol! I have never been in a proper co-ed setting. All girl primary, secondary and all girl class in college with very few mixed lectures. In secondary school in transition year we had to make tea for the teachers. Sr Agnes had to give us a full class first on how to make tea properly! ( warm teapot and cups , 2 tea age for every 3 people and SqUEEZE) then in college Sr de Montfort would float around our building and occasionally chastise girls on their clothes!!!

  • Twinkletoes says:

    Hahaha hilarious! Having been to co-ed schools all the way through, this is so alien to me!

  • Aisling says:

    We were subject to these sort of lectures regularly – they were hilarious. At least they relieved the tedium of endless readings of Peig!

  • Orla says:

    Hahaha… We had Sr Mary who taught us about the ‘tail’ boys had between their legs, this was illustrated by a drawing on the blackboard… It was interesting stuff!

  • Aisling says:

    THE TAIL!!! Nuns are flippin mad!

  • candi says:

    I went to the same school as you Aisling so I know exactly who you are talking about!! The phonebook is still laughed about now and again in our house…

  • thefrog says:

    You mean the phone book thing is for real?

    Actually, don’t know what’s more hilarious, the patent shoes or the phone book…

    This kind of thing is completely alien (even exotic) to me, being French and all, but at least the sisters were talking to you.

    My only memory of those living in my catholic high school was that one of them refused to let me set foot in their kitchen to help get some ice for a girl that had sprained her ankle in PE. She was looking at me with a strange look on her face because I had dared talk to her (PE teacher had said “go to the sisters, ask for ice”, so that’s what I did). And she barked at me when half of my foot ended up in the kitchen because she had spilled the ice on the floor, and I wanted to help.
    I have no idea what they were there for, they were not even giving moral lessons, the teaching of the Bible was left to the Italian teacher (‘normal’ teacher, married and all).

  • Aisling says:

    Candi – in what universe did she think we would be bringing a phone book to a disco! Can you remember any of her other gems?

  • supersmurf says:

    Our principal (a nun) once gave us a lecture in 3rd year because some of the girls were late back to school after lunches due to spending time in the laneway beside the school with boys (DANGER).

    She basically implied all kinds of things about said girls (nothing ever said overtly, the woman’s command of euphemisms was really Olympic when I think of it) and then suggested that to distract ourselves from these kind of activities that we take up a) chess or b) butterfly-catching. Yes really. Nobody ever ever believes that myself and my friend aren’t making that last one up.

    As a result of hand-holding “scandals” like this, the boys school next to us and our school arranged for lunch breaks to only overlap by 15 minutes (SAFE!).

  • Hazie says:

    I remember a nun stapling some brown paper to the hem of a girl’s skirt in class as it was deemed too short, she had to walk around like that for the rest of the day… and buy herself a “decent” skirt.

  • Ros says:

    My convent sex education was shocking. We were told pregnancy can only happen when you are ‘willing’, and that there will never be pregnancy as a result of rape. That the only 100% reliable form of contraception was 3 Hail Mary’s. French kissing was a mortal sin, even in marriage as it did not contribute to baby-making and was solely for pleasure. The phone book was also recommended.
    Even at 13 I had enough sense to know the nuns were barking mad. Sadly there’s still a lot of barking stuff being taught in our schools. So I have exempted my child from all religion teaching in school and am raising him to have an open mind.

  • Chloe says:

    Haha, this is hilarious! I never had nuns in either primary or secondary school, & didn’t get any sex-ed lessons either. On the contrast, my little sister, who’s ten, came home & told me last week ALL about her classes. She literally told me what sperm & ovas were, I think my poor dad nearly crashed the car in shock!

  • Lisa says:

    We actually had pretty good sex ed in secondary school: someone from the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council came in and gave a fairly no-nonsense, non-judgemental talk about methods of contraception etc.

    The gems of wisdom from the nuns were something else though. Definitely heard the phone book thing. Also one nun informed us that “sex isn’t all it’s cracked up to be” and then told us about how loads of sheep in Flanders got VD from WW1 soldiers (she also, even more alarmingly, told us that HIV didn’t cause AIDS).

  • littlesis says:

    One of my friends went to a convent and often tells the tale that the nuns used to go around telling girls to close their legs in class, because that’s ‘how the devil gets in!’.

    Never fails to make me giggle!

  • Aifs says:

    Another Convent secondary school girl here! Thankfully most of the nuns had left the school by the time I arrived so as a result, I think our sex ed was modernised though still hilarious in parts. We got the no frills biology in first year. Our male Science teacher wasn’t allowed to teach it so we went to another female teacher. Came back and all failed the test he gave us so he had to go through it with us properly! In Religion, we got to watch a video called (I think) Sex Has A Pricetag – I think Jessie J forgot that bit in her song. It was a very dramatic American lady called Paaaaahm trying to scare the bejaysus out of an audience of American teens! Gave us a quote that we used often – (American accent – sobbing) “But Paaaahm, we-love-each-oth-er!”

  • Acat says:

    Love these. Nuns get a lot of slagging but at least they provided some form of sex-ed, no one else in the country would talk about it!
    Most nuns in my school had retired but I dod once get stopped on my way out of school because I had my skirt rolled up. The nun told me that although I thought it was fashionable, I did not realise it would attract the wrong sort of attention. Boys were different creatures to girls so be very careful. Very nice of her, I must have looked innocent!

    My mam once shocked us when she told us she had nearly been expelled from school after the nuns caught her and her friends messing with a blown up condom in the school bathrooms! They got away with it because they convinced the nun they had thought it was a balloon!

  • PinkPanther says:

    We were told not to wear patent shoes or shoes with buckles so not to distract MALE TEACHERS!! Now what kind of perverts were these teachers that they were distracted by the reflection of teenage girls knickers in their shoes???

  • Aisling says:

    Gasping with laughter here!

  • supersmurf says:

    In their defence I do think we got a really good education overall. Just some of the messages about boys were a bit insane. Maybe I’m just being nostalgic though!

  • Jess says:

    did you know that you can get pregnant from NOT HAVING SEX? neither did I, until Sr Whats-her-name straightened that out for us- in 2002 :/

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