PastTimesEd

18th June 2004 at 01:00
75 years AGO

* JUNE 15 1929

The news from Riga that the Russian Professoriate is about to undergo a searching purge at the hands of Soviet administrators and organised bodies of students is, at first sight, startling, though on reflection it is not surprising. It is the scale of the purge that is surprising. About a thousand professors in Moscow alone have to undergo the ordeal, and if to this number be added the other professors in the vast area of Russia, literally an army of potential martyrs will march before the examining bodies. Even in Russia this testing of opinions among the learned is no new thing... As in so many other ways, the Soviet government are following the lines of administrative control laid down by the autocrats of Russia before the war.

50 years AGO

* JUNE 18 1954

If there is a season for speech days this is it. Flaming June seems a more convenient month than most for parents to be caught in a cloudburst. In any case, for many schools nowadays the ceremony is not so much an assize as a garden party. The science club displays its atomic pile on the fives court.

The juniors do judo on the masters' lawn. The prize giving per se seems often less spectacular than the sideshows. Even so, the principal guest remains the centre of attraction. He must still rack his brains for something original to say. At Belmont Abbey School last week Mr Evelyn Waugh took a courageous line. "Should I give my message of encouragement or depression to the young?" he asked. "No, it would be a great impertinence on my part." By thishe stood a better chance of saying something that parents and pupils would remember. Advice to the young on speech days has often been overdone.

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