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Exploding the myth

The latest issue of Teaching Scotland, official organ of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, recalls halcyon days - classes of 51 pupils, salaries of pound;8 per week in those pre-Houghton (who?) days, and stories of pupils being knocked about the head in tune with the verses of a hymn.

Mary Scott, late of St Bridget's primary in Toryglen, Glasgow, writes of her first year in teaching: "By morning playtime on my first day, I had exhausted my limited infant repertoire. I had to learn to think on my feet and this has stood me in good stead over the years," So much for the golden age of teacher training.

Robert Walker recalls his science lab at Thurso High in 1972, before health and safety made its debut. Pupils could take each other's blood, dissect cattle hearts and eyeballs, use concentrated acid for explosive experiments and dabble with steam engines.

As Walker concludes his piece, aptly entitled "Explosive teaching", he reflects: "I think the pupils (of today) would enjoy the old experiments more and probably learn more from them. We wrap children up in too much cotton wool these days."

Skills for work indeed.

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