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Past TimesEd

75 years ago October 6 1928

We have lost, in these days of speed and restlessness, a method of education that our great-grandparents highly prized, both for its intellectual and moral value-that is to say, the lesson which belonged not to the classroom but to the great world without, which arose out of and satisfied childish interests, which covered large tracts of knowledge in a pleasant way, and which ended in a moral so direct and obvious that the child seemed to gain from the experience a lesson that would be of use and help to him throughout his life...Let us turn to the illustrious Mrs Sherwood of a century ago, remembered now, alas, only for her much-read book The Fairchild Family, which uplifted, consoled, warned, and terrorised the inhabitants of the nurseries of three generations ago.

50 years ago October 2 1953

Children in the audience are again attracting attention - at the expense, one fears, of the actors on the stage...Correspondents to the Daily Telegraph are returning to the charge. One writer voiced the fear that children are corrupted by seeing Hamlet - if any of them understand it.

Another, while expressing "callous indifference" about that, complains that he has "suffered much" from the presence of children at the theatre. He does not consider the young things to blame: the fault lies rather with "those idealistic adults who believe that the children should be led to the Bard"; and he suggests that when school parties are expected, adults should be warned of the "impending din".

25 years ago October 6 1978

Mrs Margaret Thatcher was challenged by Mrs Shirley Williams to say exactly what Conservative education policies were during a speech at the Labour Party conference in Blackpool. Mrs Williams spoke derisively of the "educational shambles" presided over by Mr Norman St John Stevas, the Conservative education spokesman and his junior, Dr Rhodes Boyson. "Blessed Norman, otherwise known as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, stone-age Dr Boyson", she said, were only united on two issues. "One is a desire to perpetuate some selection in some form; the other is a wish to become education minister."

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