Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Relics from a Bygone Age: Comment

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Relics from a Bygone Age: Comment

Article excerpt

There is much discussion at the moment about the history curriculum in England. I think it's an important subject, although I didn't enjoy it at school because it was taught by a tedious gentleman who made it as dull as ditchwater. And the subject didn't turn me on at teacher training college either. The lecturer even managed to put himself to sleep on hot afternoons.

But as a teacher I found the subject fascinating, perhaps because I was making up for what I hadn't been taught. I now find myself reading accounts of the previous century with immense pleasure, probably because I lived through a chunk of it.

As an ageing headteacher, I was often used as a historical resource. The students listened, astonished, when I told them that my childhood home had no electricity. I explained how my father carried buckets of hot water to the bath from the gas-fired copper downstairs, and in midwinter he often had to pour hot water over the frozen pipes.

My passion for history found an outlet in our school museum. I started this shortly after I became a headteacher and we were given all sorts of interesting artefacts by parents and visitors to the school.

Among our collection we had a bus conductor's rack complete with tickets; magazines from the 1950s; a huge early video camera; a gas mask; an ancient typewriter; Beethoven's Ninth Symphony on a dozen 78rpm records; a 16mm movie camera; an early mobile phone and a Lott's chemistry set that came with a Bunsen burner. Health and safety officials would have had a field day. …

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