Poor A Level results determined my student option of a college of education and it was further complicated by being in the United States for the year. My mother wrote in a letter that, with the impossibility of an interview, I must have been given a good school reference by John Woods. It was with some uncertainty that I pitched up in Ormskirk, Lancashire in October 1974.
There is much to be said about the social aspects of four years as a student, but a turn out of the loft revealed a ring-binder of papers which focussed the attention on some of the hard work that must have taken place.
A printed sheet indicates the term 8 educational studies option course on the psychology of education with these five areas to be studied:
- Cognitive development (i) Piaget
- Cognitive development (ii) Bruner
- Convergent and divergent thinking
- Problems and methods of personality assessment
This is followed by lecture outlines, seminar topics, initial reading
and more detailed reading. It would appear that I presented a seminar on “Improving memory is only a matter of organising the material and of adequate repetition. Discuss.” If only I could remember that! (Ba-dum, tish!) The little arrow on the exam paper suggests I wrote an answer on “Examine evidence as to why we forget.”
I had also written essays on “Review and discuss the literature you have read relating to the home school links” and on “What is the relationship, if any, between education and indoctrination?” The term 9 philosophy of education option covered:
- Freedom and Authority
- Moral Education
The folder includes Times Educational Supplement articles from May 1977 (price 18p) when it had substantial journalism unlike the renamed TES today. These include ‘ O level standards dropped’ and The William Tyndale School disciplinary decision. Also there is, continuing the Great Debate, leaks from the “Green Paper sees teaching as vital social justice”, “Green Paper to nudge schools to common core” and Shirley Williams saying “I’m afraid I can’t give a straight answer…”
A hand-written note on my induction programme shows that 31 started the course doing geography. As only 23 names appear on the third year results list it wasn’t a push-over to pass. It was the teaching practices rather than subject courses that caused most drop-outs.
The induction programme identifies Steve Cameron as the President of the Students’ Union. The SU provided the context for political activism of a student nature and wider – and for being an important part of my social circle. I was involved in the film society which showed current and international films. I set up a Backgammon and Boardgames Society. I became a student governor. I played a bit of snooker and I worked at the bar in discos. My mate, Steve Gross, was Social Secretary and booked many good, up-and-coming bands of the day such as Cafe Society, Sailor, Eddie and the Hot Rods etc. In connection with the SU we had visits from national NUS figures such as Alastair Stewart, Su Slipman and David Aaronovitch. Another President of the SU at the time was Andy Simpson who I used to met at events in London as he became Head of Education at the RSPB.
There are photos of student protest over on the sub-section “Places 1976”
Marg, who was two years ahead, has a memory of me snuggled in a coat sitting in the library reading The Guardian.