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Our correspondents write;Letters;Millennium edition

The letters pages have always been among the liveliest and most unpredictable parts of "The TES". Here are some classic missives:

* Leave your hat on

Four young men have just been to see me about a vacancy in my school. Three of them came - and from a considerable distance - without a hat. Am I intolerant, or is it youth? Unnamed headmaster, June 14,1930

* Defense de fumer

It would be interesting to know whether any instructions are issued to oral examiners in modern languages in the matter of smoking.

The examiner who has a cigarette in his mouth while putting a question, or who, while speaking, raises his hand to his mouth to remove his cigarette, must be handicapping the weaker candidates, to whom the question comes through a haze of smoke from a possibly obscured mouth. Head of a modern language department, July 22, 1939

* Too inquisitive

Will any kind mathematics teacher tell me of a textbook that helps a teacher to explain to a too-inquiring child why 4 - (- 3) is 7? Or why like signs in multiplication give plus, unlike signs minus?

My degree is in English but I teach mathematics because I cannot get a specialist teacher. I could, I think, pass matriculation mathematics, and am possibly the only dominie who whiles away a train journey doing problems instead of reading. But my pupils' minds inquire more than I explain. AS Neill, Summerhill School, July 5, 1947

* Cold reception

Is it not about time that notices to the effect that parents are forbidden to enter school precincts were removed from all our state schools?

I feel sure that every enlightened headteacher encourages parents to feel welcome. But the fact that local education authorities allow them to remain up is surely a sign that the need to encourage every parent to take an interest in his child's education, and an active part in it , is not yet officially recognised. Vesta Gill, East Twickenham, September 23, 1949

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