Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Irish Teacher Failed to Foresee His Fate: Letters[1]

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Irish Teacher Failed to Foresee His Fate: Letters[1]

Article excerpt

"I wouldn't be where I am today ..." prompted me to reflect on my own experiences of school. In so doing, I realised that the greatest impact on my own education (a lifelong process that never ends but is abandoned only at death) occurred neither at school nor university.

True, my grammar school had enabled me to pass A levels, but much of the learning was by rote. At university, my experience was never wholly satisfactory: for example, I recall in a third-year politics tutorial being told by my tutor (later a vice-chancellor): "Somerton, why don't you go down a coal mine?" The comment was presumably "inspired" by the fact that my background was working class.

Having graduated from the University of Manchester with a degree in economics and politics, from 1964 I worked for 11 years for the Workers' Educational Association. It was only at the onset of my teaching career that my real education began.

A memorable example of this process occurred in a trade union evening class I was teaching in the late 1960s. We were discussing the impact of inflation on wages and I had referred to the movement of the retail prices index. Someone in the class asked me, what was the RPI? …

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