75 years  

The Colonial Dept 1927-1953

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Canon John Hargreaves : student 1942/3

Canon Hargreaves recalls fellow students and particular members of staff. He also describes his experience of teaching practice and its relevance for his term of service overseas:

"60 years ago the Institute, led by Sir Fred Clarke, arranged a special course for five of us who were preparing to teach overseas. There was Murray Rogers, who went to India to teach in an English college. He wrote to me last week and said the Institute was a marvellous experience. But the college he went to in India was much keener to turn Indians into English gentlemen than to educate them as Indians. He was so disillusioned that he left them and spent the rest of his time in a monastic community together with his wife. He sends his love and gratitude to everyone as we had such a good time here.

There was Alison Stewart, a lovely Scots girl who went to China, two friendly Irish Roman Catholic priests who seemed always surprised that the Institute was so unlike a Catholic seminary, and myself who benefited greatly from the course over many years in Nigeria and Uganda.  Fred Clarke himself told us the meaning of Education: training people to think, rather than filling them with facts. And Dr Margaret Read, in her unique way, introduced us to practical Anthropology – involving wonderful sessions after hours at “Lyons Corner House.”

For Murray and me teaching practice took place in Nottingham (safer from the air raids than London). The genial Headmaster of the Primary School gave us a class each and explained that they were in the same room. Murray stood with his back to the wall, one end, and I facing him at the other end, divided by a sort of trellis. To be heard by the class you had to be sure that you were talking a little louder than your opposite number. It was hugely enjoyable. The Headmaster said, “if you can teach here, you can teach anywhere”. This was almost true, but try teaching in the rainy season. A boy teaching 70 pupils under a roof made of corrugated iron - well that is something different and something we had never met in Nottingham.

I am most grateful for the Institute course, which was as relevant as it was enjoyable. I realise that someone may ask what I was doing swanning around the intellectual fleshpots of the Institute, and not sharing in the crucial war. The battle of Alamein was not yet decided. I must answer this at another time in another place.

To the Institute 60 years ago I can only say “Thank you very much indeed”.  You can imagine how happy I was when my daughter Eleanor became a student and a member of staff here."

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Compiled and edited by Clare Bentall and Angela Little. First issued Spring 2005.