75 years  

Education in Tropical Areas 1952-1973

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Dr Jeremy Greenland : student  1968/9, lecturer 1982-1984

Jeremy recalls the pride of his fellow students at their experiences overseas, the activities they undertook on the PGCE course and the food in the SOAS canteen.      

My PGCE year, 1968-69 was obviously a vintage year, if only because it was Geoff Whitty’s (the present Director of the Institute) PGCE year too.  Our group must have struck our tutors as being a pretty arrogant bunch. We had all just come back from teaching a couple of years or more in Africa and thought that our tutors were die-hard, out-of-date colonialists. We had drunk deep at the well of Nyerere’s Education for Self-reliance and felt very much proud of ourselves for all of that experience.
English as a Foreign Language (EFL) was our method subject, and we had Ken Cripwell as our main tutor. Ken's theatrical and Congo consultancy contacts lent a touch of panache and mystery to his work which we appreciated.
The high point of the year was making a video -- yes, a video -- early one morning in the Mile End Road to accompany the Beatles' song 'Eleanor Rigby'. When we repaired to what turned out to be a Jewish café for breakfast, I embarrassed everyone by asking for a bacon sandwich.
We took our PGCE exams in Chelsea Town Hall, on folding wooden desks which were probably already in use when the Institute first opened its doors.
I returned to the Institute in later years to the EDC Department on a number of one-year contracts.  One of them, promising me a salary of £2000 and signed by Lionel Elvin, is among my prized possessions. When I finally got a proper job, my departure coincided with that of Peter Williams and, at the reception in Peter's honour, I said a few words. I obviously spoke too long, and our chairman today (Bill Dodd) took me on one side and kindly but firmly told me to be briefer in future. I can hear him saying the same thing behind me today.
The delights of the cuisine at SOAS have been mentioned by a previous speaker. I am happy to tell him that, in 1968, curried eggs and rice at SOAS were the best deal going, and cost 1 shilling and three pence per portion.

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