As a teacher, Bruce Farrer would make his students write notes to themselves, promising to return them 20 yrs later
Fort Qu’Appelle: Throughout his four-decade high school teaching career, Farrer tasked his students with writing letters to themselves. He kept each one so the students wouldn’t lose them or be tempted to open them before 20 years were up.
Keeping his promise, Farrer has now been mailing the many thousands of notes he’s saved throughout the years back to all his former students.
You’ve got mail, from yourself: Farrer has mailed out around 1,000 letters, but he has many more to go. He will be sending letters until the year 2022
The 72-year-old from Fort Qu’Appelle, Canada taught for 25 years at Bert Fox Community High School, and gave the assignment to his students every year, beginning in 1977. “I always found history fascinating,” Farrer said. “To find something old, like an old newspaper; we love to see that past. I thought it would be fascinating for the kids to read something from them that was old.”
“It hasn’t been that easy, but it’s been an interesting endeavour to try and find them,” Farrer comments. “Facebook has helped a fair amount. Canada 411 has been helpful, but people have cell phones now, and their numbers aren’t recorded, so that has been more difficult.” So far, he’s mailed out around 1,000, but he has many more to go. Farrer says he will be sending letters until the year 2022.
The response from his old students has been mostly positive; everyone seems surprised by the unique delivery. “Most of them have been amazed at their letters,” Farrer remarks. “They were amazed at how accurate they were or how little students have changed. One student said to me the kinds of things her daughter talks about is exactly what she wrote about in her letter. Maybe that helps them as parents to remember what it’s like to be a 14-year-old.”
Other recipients were embarrassed, or shocked by their youthful insecurities. One student wrote that he hoped to be married to a Swede due to his love for ABBA. He ended up moving to Sweden for work and, in fact, was married to a Swede. “Pure coincidence! He’d forgotten all about it,” Farrer says.