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IN 1976 after 3-years of polytechnic (ie, naively allowing myself to be trained as a higher-level slave in the great corporate machine) and being persuaded, against my better judgment, to make a stab at schoolteaching (which I was assured had evolved beyond all reckoning in recent years, gullible prat that I was), I decided at least to take a PGCE course and spend a relaxing year in the attractive environs of Bath and its excellently appointed modern university - with the prospect (more naivete!) of afterwards working 6-hour days and enjoying massive holidays for the rest of my 'working' life. As it turned out, things were to eventually become much rosier than this. But to concentrate on the little episode I outline here in my 'career': The course involved two 6-week 'Teaching Practice' attachments at local schools. The second one for me, the half-term preceding Easter 1977, was at a boys' school in Bath (Beechen Cliff). In the final week an external examiner came to assess my performance with a class who responded as well to his presence as to my request in their final lesson, and as demonstrated in the 'small experiment' below.

I should also preface the following responses with an explanation as to some of their content: my approach, as ever, was the same as if I had been working with people of my own age. Whether my students were aged 5 or 50 it would have been the same. It strikes me always as quite natural to treat people with equal respect and trust regardless... unless an individual presents good reason to do otherwise, and even then I would still adhere to the principle of equal respect to all. Regarding the students in my charge: I was not (except in giving them each an apple at our final meeting) 'nice and kind' any more than were my tutors and lecturers at university. Indeed, I saw my students in the same way. Although I believe any other approach would have been inappropriate, I thought my lecturers set a very fine example. But how unlike this was to the contemptuous, vituperative and disdainful way I was treated as a kid! Those early experiences of compulsory 'education' have always puzzled me, and only in recent years have I sought to understand the probable cause.


A Small Experiment in 'Education'

from March 1977


This was not an exercise to gain personal approval or just to have a good time. It was a serious attempt to establish an enjoyable and therefore meaningful situation which, as well as much else, is prerequisite to efficiency in education. While realising and largely satisfying the intellectual needs there was an awareness of the emotional requirements of the children that seemed almost entirely lacking in the rest of the school.  This obnoxious truth is borne out by the response of the children who were given about ten minutes to record their views following this new experience (of 6-weeks duration).

The resulting 24 replies of 3a1 (the top C.S.E. class) was to the request to ‘Point out the faults and virtues of my approach to teaching’. They were also asked to be frank and honest and to include any other relevant information that they thought would help me to be a better teacher.  Although it was made clear that they were not obliged to include their names, most did, and so as a precaution all names quoted are fictitious but are arranged to preserve consistency. Original scripts are available for proof of authenticity.

Usual teacher's name is Dobson (Dobbie, Eros). ‘Eros’ because of his large ears.


E. Elliot.

1) If you dont want teach by being strick you ought to start of when you have a new class by being strick and then slowly slacken of a few weeks later when the class respect you.  But you ought to be a little bit strickter.  Also if you can have a choise what year you want to teach you would be better teaching first year as they are usually quite and do what their told because they are a bit nervous of being at a new school.  Because if you get 2nd year onwards they will be used to being cept under order by force and threats then when you come along not wanting to teach them like that they get out of order and become noisy and then you might get in troble for not doing something about them


Mr Clark                        A P D

Be much more strict and threaten people so they would be quiet like stay in after school for about Half an hour and set a little bit more Homework


1) When you teach a class tell them to be quiet, after a bit you can slowly slacken of a few weeks when the class respect you.  If you want to teach you be advised to teach first years and if you are going to teach should revise your notes


I think that you ought to be more strict and to keep the class more quiet. You should also put people on detention if they dont shut up when you say.


Reginald Rowe 3a1

I think that in the next school you go to train in, it would make it much better if you could control the class and keep it quiet.  The class would learn more, not to say we haven't learnt anything, even if our class is a riot at times


Be lennient but keep them quiet, keep controll of them, give them not to much homework, make them do a lot of work in class.  If they are bad throw chalk not Blackboard rubbers at them, not like dobbie


Rules (Laws)

Start off stricked and then back off but always be ready to strike back Always be confident. Always take a active part in any school insterest. Never be to generous, it only brings disorder  Always be prepared (black board rubber) If not the boys/girls with, later on, not think much of you You are not bad really, but you just got to believe it yourself

Signed Matthew Maskell

P.S. never, never, never give apples, poloes or anything else, never  Never say Please will you did this!  more than once.  Clamp down hard and fast on anything against the rules or diserpline.  (cards, inerdension) best of luck  I mean it.


please open this last    PHILIP CLARKE only

I think that you should not favratise anybody, not that you do but the bastard dobson does for example

I got 29 out of 50 in a test and he took me for about 2 weeks before you came and I got E3 for my half turm assESMENT.   Dorling got 5 out of 50 and had the same time with eros and he got D5.  (I now my half turm result because kimpton George and I looked but don't tell) The only trouble is that if I try to get a different teacher who know's they all might pick on me.

but truly your the best teacher I ever had

yours truthfully


P.S. Good luck on your holiday and at your future sckool. P.P.S. I live at ...................Bath Avon

So if your ever in Bath look me up.  I live .........the bottom sckool

but it probably won't be there by the time you get back    GOODBY

Take not carefully PHILIP.  Good By, it's been nice knowing you and your a great bloke



Sir you should try to be a little bit more Strickter other wise you are perfect

David Dorling—


you ought to Be a bit more strict and hand out detensions and lines for people like Maley, rowe, George Kimpton and dorling etc.

 p.s. Lot's of luck


Mr Clark                                                                     B. Bond

I think you should be strict and punish individuls who are talking and stopping others concentrating on the subject like sending them out the class.  I think you are a good teacher but I think you could have set a bit harder work.


John Braybrook

1) People who flick scum should be put on detention and if they still keep on flick give 'em the cane.
2. Be more stricked.


I agree entirely on what you do and don't do in the class Sir! these are true lines
You are nice and You are kind     You are nice and You are kind
You are nice and you are kind      You are nice and You are kind
You are nice and You are kind      You are nice and You are kind
You are nice and You are kind      You are nice and You are
You are nice qnd You are kind      You are nice and You are kind
You are nice and You are kind      You are nice and You are
You are nice and You are kind      You are nice and You are kind
You are nice and You are kind     .You are nice and You are kind  100,000 times and I hope you will like, what You do later
from Rod Gray and Henry Woods


W. Roughton
I think you should continue teaching as you do now.


To Philip

Sir I hope you have a good time in your professional teaching.  To be honest I hope you carry on with your teaching throughout your life.  You are my favourite teacher unlike Dobson (Eros) in R E we were told it is god of sexual love but dobson is god of horrors.  I hope the kids at your next school are kinder than here but they can't like you more because we think you are great.  Dobson is a jew compared to you.
               from Rodney Gray
 p.s. Good bye I am sorry I can't repay.


Tom Charles Holmes

I think that you should carry on this way of teach but if the ocation arise that you should show a little strikness just enough to keep the class quiote.I think you could maybe have little pieces of coloured card and when a person does some good work give them a card and at the end of the week the Five people with the most cards give the an apple or a packet of sweet it may improve there work it may not but if you try it you'll find out.

Carry on the good work eating apples.  I think your the best teacher I've had I wish you the best in your future teaching and I hope you have as much fun as weve had with you as our math teacher.      BYE


THe Best Way to be a good teacher is to carry on the Way You are


L. Alfrey.

Phil, I think that you should make the class know that you are the boss. As soon as the class know this pehaps you could ease off.  Also if you put someone on detention put them on detention. Don't be to strick and then don't be to kind.

When teaching always be prepared to answer questions and even go back to the basic facts.  Never go to fast when teaching.
Do as you are doing here by being kind


Len Alfrey.

Also. Always be prepared for thinks that don't work as you expected it. Because they often turn out write when you are least expecting it


Sir you couldn't improve your teaching (as it's so good) unless you let us have faggs and a bit of a drink

Your a really great teacher



I think.you method of teaching would prove to be of great help in the schools that children are aloud to make there own dicisions on running the school in a proper way so that they could benefit themselves.  But in a comprehensive school the boys a kept down, all the time so when a good teacher comes like yourself the boys run riot.
The trouble is there is not enough good teachers with your same point of view about teaching:, so when you come to our school we don't really benifit it where as in the school of your choice they would.
I would just like to say thank you for all you good work and we have apreciated it.  Thanks again and good luck in your knew job and I wish you the best of luck in the future.



Adrian Wicklow

I think you should be more strict, for example all those people who flicked bits of paper should of been put on detention.  But otherwise I think you were very good.  You were very good at explaining things, but, you should of told people of when they did not do there homework.
 P.S. You were a very nice person


F. Palmer.
If schools cant be abolished then I think that they should have more teachers like you.  As you seem to be against being strict then to keep the pupils attension small tests and an occasional quiz should be held this would make pupils learn so that they would win the quizzes and at the same time enjoy what they learn,  Hope you pass, and become a teacher.  For a change I've enjoyed Maths which is very unusual.

Good Luck

P.S.  Thanks for the apple.


Mr. Clarke, (Phil)     25-3-77
Your teaching has proved a great change in the pressure that is pushed on us. I believe that if every teacher took the attitude that you put forward, school would be a much happier place for a lot of accupants.

I hate to put any faults in your teaching but I feel that other teachers could or might take a grudge about noise, but and a very big but if you are going to a school where the pupils play a good part in the every day running of the class so they might have a say in pupils talking, so they might be a very quiet class or classes.

Throught the country schools need people like you, but I only wish that other teachers would play along and follow your example.

I am sure if Mr. Dobson knew about myself and the others writing a report on you he would surely not agree. I and the others really appreciate your work,


Yours sincerely

George Kimpton 3a1


D Ambrose

You are a Superb, brilliant, Fantastic, amazing, incredible master.
I have enjoyed being taught by you & I have learned a lot in maths.

Thanks Philip




Although there are many faults in my approach that the children are aware of, there seems to emerge a clear indication of the terrible harm that is being done to them under the repressive and unhappy circumstances that their present teachers maintain.  They have, I believe, exaggerated both the levels of discipline and the quality of relationships with me and have mostly underestimated the work achievement;  perhaps they don't relate some of their exercises to

If the children are as aware as they appear to be of the problems and limitations of my approach, and at the same time reject most of the usual regime;  then perhaps from the clear respect that most of them have for me and my concern for them as individuals there could emerge a degree of self control or carefully guided democratic 'control' that would be compatible with their desire for order as well as fulfilment of their intellectual requirements and the resulting enjoyment that is so sadly lacking in their school life at present.

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SEE ALSO: an alternative to the mad classroom

(During a lesson a few days before this final period, one of the boys called out: 'Do you believe in God, Sir?'

You could have heard a pin drop while they awaited my reply.

'No!' I announced.

The whole class cheered in unison.

At first I was astonished, but later - on reflection - it made perfect sense; any other response, I decided, would have been astonishing.)