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29th November – On This Day In History

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Born:

1898 CS Lewis (author – Narnia)

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Died:

1986 Cary Grant (actor)

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On This Day:

1870 Compulsory education proclaimed in England

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Have a good Wednesday, 29th November

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September, The First Day of School

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I

My child and I hold hands on the way to school,
And when I leave him at the first-grade door
He cries a little but is brave; he does
Let go. My selfish tears remind me how
I cried before that door a life ago.
I may have had a hard time letting go.

Each fall the children must endure together
What every child also endures alone:
Learning the alphabet, the integers,
Three dozen bits and pieces of a stuff
So arbitrary, so peremptory,
That worlds invisible and visible

Bow down before it, as in Joseph’s dream
The sheaves bowed down and then the stars bowed down
Before the dreaming of a little boy.
That dream got him such hatred of his brothers
As cost the greater part of life to mend,
And yet great kindness came of it in the end.

II

A school is where they grind the grain of thought,
And grind the children who must mind the thought.
It may be those two grindings are but one,
As from the alphabet come Shakespeare’s Plays,
As from the integers comes Euler’s Law,
As from the whole, inseperably, the lives,

The shrunken lives that have not been set free
By law or by poetic phantasy.
But may they be. My child has disappeared
Behind the schoolroom door. And should I live
To see his coming forth, a life away,
I know my hope, but do not know its form

Nor hope to know it. May the fathers he finds
Among his teachers have a care of him
More than his father could. How that will look
I do not know, I do not need to know.
Even our tears belong to ritual.
But may great kindness come of it in the end.

 

– Howard Nemerov

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My Teacher Wasn’t Half As Nice As Yours Seems To Be

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‘My teacher wasn’t half as nice as yours seems to be.
His name was Mister Unsworth and he taught us history.
And when you didn’t know a date he’d get you by the ear
And start to twist while you sat there quite paralysed with fear.
He’d twist and twist and twist your ear and twist it more and more.
Until at last the ear came off and landed on the floor.
Our class was full of one-eared boys. I’m certain there were eight.
Who’d had them twisted off because they didn’t know a date.
So let us now praise teachers who today are all so fine
And yours in particular is totally divine.’

 

– Roald Dahl

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The New School

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The halls that were loud with the merry tread of young and careless feet
Are still with a stillness that is too drear to seem like holiday,
And never a gust of laughter breaks the calm of the dreaming street
Or rises to shake the ivied walls and frighten the doves away.

The dust is on book and on empty desk, and the tennis-racquet and balls
Lie still in their lonely locker and wait for a game that is never played,
And over the study and lecture-room and the river and meadow falls
A stern peace, a strange peace, a peace that War has made.

For many a youthful shoulder now is gay with an epaulet,
And the hand that was deft with a cricket-bat is defter with a sword,
And some of the lads will laugh to-day where the trench is red and wet,
And some will win on the bloody field the accolade of the Lord.

They have taken their youth and mirth away
from the study and playing-ground
To a new school in an alien land beneath an alien sky;
Out in the smoke and roar of the fight their lessons and games are found,
And they who were learning how to live are learning how to die.

And after the golden day has come and the war is at an end,
A slab of bronze on the chapel wall will tell of the noble dead.
And every name on that radiant list will be the name of a friend,
A name that shall through the centuries in grateful prayers be said.

And there will be ghosts in the old school,
brave ghosts with laughing eyes,
On the field with a ghostly cricket-bat, by the stream with a ghostly rod;
They will touch the hearts of the living with a flame that sanctifies,
A flame that they took with strong young hands
from the altar-fires of God.

 

– Joyce Kilmer

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Sports Day

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I remember our school sports day
Where we all went out to race
I remember jumping in a sack
And falling on my face

I remember someone calling out
Next race is starting soon
I remember running down the field
With a stupid egg and spoon

I remember throwing beanbags
At a circle on the floor
I remember not being very good
But going back for more

I remember coloured sashes
And I wore the colour green
I remember what we won that day
Wasn’t easy to be seen

I remember looking at the score
We were still at the beginning
I remember what our teacher said
It’s the taking part not the winning

 

– David Threadgold

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Some More From Einstein…

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As promised, some more quotes from that great man, who died on this day in history…

For those of us into teaching…

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

And one for the dangers that face our civilisation at the present time…

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

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To Those Back At School…

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To all of you who are back at school now after your Easter break…

Whether you are a school pupil or a university student (and everyone in between), remember…

Education is a huge privilege and one of the finest gifts that society can give you. It open your mind, and teaches you about the world around you. Through education, you make friends and build networks. You learn how to think and analyse the world around you, and come out of the darkness of ignorance. You might think that you are just learning “boring stuff”, but it is so much more than that. Open you mind and imagination – apply what you are taught.

There are those who are refused education due to constraints of their societies, financial difficulties, gender and religion. Imagine the hurdles that they have to overcome to lead successful lives!

Embrace your opportunities – please!

In the words of that famous and wise statesman,

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” (Nelson Mandela)

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