Friday, August 21, 2009

Literacies past

My father started working life as a teacher in a Nottinghamshire mining village at the time of the Depression. He used to talk a lot about the hungry children with no shoes on their feet. I’ve recently come across his teaching notes from that time, written in pen and ink in a flowing cursive hand. It’s a fascinating insight into the curriculum of the time, concerning what was thought to be important to pass on to the young. Geography and history are unsurprisingly anglocentric, undeniably nationalistic, and sometimes what would now be deemed racist. There’s a strong emphasis on nature study and lots of English. This is usually subdivided into prose, verse, reading, language study and composition. An extract from prose study runs like this: How a Little Boy Spent Two Shillings. The story itself is quite simple, but the following needs explanation :- disposed to talk confidentially; common complaint; lattice; Chippendale. The questions will be asked orally. The surviving students from that era will be about 85 years of age now, having lived through the Depression, World War Two, the Sixties, the Miners Strike, and so much more. I hope their education served them well and that they are disposed to talk confidently!

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