Personal touch

Sylvia Langley

I am deeply disturbed by recent attempts to "raise the status" of the teaching profession by insisting on higher entrance qualifications.

Back in the 1950s, I was a junior school pupil and for three years my class had the same teacher, Mr Minchin. After serving as a soldier during the Second World War, he decided to become a teacher, and was only required to do one year's training. He was (unnecessarily) quite humble in his attitude, and spoke with awe of "graduates".

In those days the curriculum was geared to passing the 11-plus, and the timetable a matter of repeated "testing". Nearly all of us succeeded in passing that final exam.

But this teacher did not just teach us "facts". He cannot have had the time to do a formal course in psychology, but he was partly bringing us up. Time and time again over the decades my oldest friend and former classmate Janet and I have agreed: "That Mr Minchin gave us all the best start in life we could possibly have had."

Fortunately, I had the chance a few years ago to tell this to his widow.

Sylvia Langley, Retired English teacher, Essex.

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Sylvia Langley

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