The Daily Telegraph carried an obituary of Col. Michael Singleton, the sort of pedagogue you just don’t get from modern teacher training colleges:
Long walks, cold dormitories and regular hymn-singing were also an integral part of the education, along with cricket nets and Latin prose.
Despite a brisk code of discipline, Singleton took a laissez-faire approach out of the classroom. Every November 5 the smallest boy in the school was sent down a tunnel to light the very core of the bonfire. None, so far as anyone can recall, was ever lost. ….
When war with Hitler was inevitable, Michael Singleton organised a company of the Hereford Light Infantry. He was later seconded to the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and landed in France just after D-Day. Fighting across Belgium and Holland, he was wounded three times and was awarded the MC for his leadership and courage.
Medical attention bored him. More than once he had a batman dress his wounds and discharged himself from hospital to return to his men. Singleton had a low esteem for the higher ranks, and was a stranger to snobbery.
What central heating there existed was not always effective, or even switched on. Boys were permitted to capture owls and keep them in the fives court, provided they caught enough sparrows to feed them. One boy recalls being given the task of rearing a lamb to which he developed some emotional attachment. The animal, called Lottie, disappeared shortly before the school’s Christmas feast, and the boy realised what had happened only when he was the first to be summoned for second helpings.
Two thoughts: if we are going to make a new place for ourselves as American mercenaries, this is the kind of education our officers and men will need. And even if we’re not, it’s probably better than quite a lot that’s on offer in the inner cities now.
Ask yourself, dear gentle Guardian reader, whether you would rather have your son brought up there, or at the Hackney school you have moved house to get away from.