"My mother, as we drove along in the coach, admonished me that I was now going into the world and must learn to think and act for myself"by Ian Irvine / August 31, 2020 / Leave a comment
The historian Edward Gibbon recalls in his autobiography: “In my ninth year I was sent to Kingston-upon-Thames to a school of about 70 boys, which was kept by Dr Wodeson and his assistants. Every time I have since passed over Putney Common, I have always noticed the spot where my mother, as we drove along in the coach, admonished me that I was now going into the world and must learn to think and act for myself.”
Winston Churchill starts cramming for the entrance examination to Harrow School (which he narrowly passes): “I had scarcely passed my 12th birthday when I entered the inhospitable regions of examination, through which for the next seven years I was destined to journey. These examinations were a great trial to me. The subjects which were dearest to the examiners were almost invariably those I fancied least. I would have liked to have been examined in history, poetry and writing essays. The examiners, on the other hand, were partial to Latin and mathematics. But their will prevailed.”
The writer Janice Galloway begins her secondary education at Ardrossan Academy: “The Academy, for all it looked like a brickworks, was a local landmark regarded with pride. In the dim and distant it had been fee-paying: now all you had to do was pass the Qualifying Exam, and its doors were open. My mother had heard of Eton, but had never seen it and never would, but whatever the King’s College of Our Lady of Eton beside Windsor was like, it could not be possibly more top-notch than Ardrossan Academy. Education, she said so again and again, made a difference. It was a passport to getting on via a dedicated process called sticking in, which led by the natural law of fairness to a Better Life.
Ardrossan not only provided this opportunity but provided it free. Buying an education, unless it was for children who couldn’t pass exams in the normal way, struck mum as proof that some people had more money than sense and ought to be taxed more. Watching me head off to the fantasy palace of Ardrossan Academy every morning after the ups and downs of Jacks Road Primary must have filled her with wild relief.”