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Posted in Education, Historical articles, History, London, Music on Thursday, 23 May 2013
This edited article about Muzio Clementi originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 264 published on 4 February 1967.
Most infant prodigies fade into obscurity while they are still very young. Not so Muzio Clementi, the pianist and composer, who lived for a time at No. 128, Kensington Church Street.
Clementi was born in Italy, the son of a musically-inclined silversmith. His father noticed the child’s unusual sensitivity to music and he persuaded a choirmaster in Rome to develop the boy’s talent.
Muzio Clementi was an apt pupil.
By the time he was 12, he had composed an oratorio – a complicated piece of music scored for voices, solo and chorus, backed by an orchestra. His confidence grew with his ability and he eagerly tackled much more difficult musical themes, so that at 14 he had already achieved several full-scale works, the themes properly counterpointed with subsidiary melodies. One of these – a mass – was performed in Rome and was accounted one of the musical sensations of the day.
Clementi’s fame – and his music – reached the ears of Peter Beckford, an English MP who was visiting Rome at the time. Impressed by the young Italian boy’s talent, Beckford persuaded the father to send him to England for further training under his care.
So Clementi came to live at a Wiltshire country house, where he studied hard at languages and science as well as music. He spent many hours exploring the possibilities of the new instrument that was replacing the harpsichord – the piano. In 1773, he was sent to London for his first public concert and from then on his success was immediate and lasting.
By 1777, he was conductor at the Italian Opera in London, and in 1780 he set off on a European tour, playing in Paris, Strasbourg, Munich and Vienna. He met Haydn, and played a musical ‘competition’ against Mozart before Emperor Joseph II of Austria; the contest was declared drawn. Clementi admired Mozart’s touch, and his own style subsequently changed, although he denied that Mozart’s influence had any bearing on this.
From 1782, Clementi was one of London’s most fashionable music teachers, and he later went into business as a piano-maker and music publisher. As he grew older, he devoted more time to composition, producing over a hundred sonatas and several symphonies, since lost. He died in 1832 and was given a public burial at Westminster Abbey.
Modern piano-playing techniques are still based on those developed by Muzio Clementi.
Posted in Education, Historical articles, History, Royalty on Tuesday, 7 May 2013
This edited article about Eton originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 244 published on 17 September 1966.
Eton school began as a charity on 12th September, 1440, when King Henry VI granted a charter to found the College of the Blessed Mary of Eton at Windsor.
King Henry’s charter laid down that the college should consist of a provost, ten fellows, a schoolmaster, an usher, 70 scholars, ten clerks or priests, 16 choristers and 13 poor men. The scholars were to be the sons of poor but worthy men. The king provided also for the education of other boys who were to be the sons of noble and powerful persons.
The poor scholars, called King’s Scholars, were to live in the college, while accommodation for the others was reserved in houses and inns in Windsor.
At the same time King Henry founded King’s College, Cambridge, to which scholars from Eton were to proceed. This connection with Eton continues at King’s College today, 24 scholarships being reserved there for Etonians who reach the required standard.
Since King Henry VI’s day, the rules governing the entry of boys to Eton have changed greatly. There are still King’s Scholars, but they gain entrance through scholarships open to any boy between 12 and 14 who is of British parentage. The education and maintenance of these boys was met by college endowments until 1923. Since then a fee has been charged which is remitted in whole or in part in cases of hardship.
The King’s Scholars, who number about 1,000, live in the 25 houses attached to the college. The college also maintains a choir school for the free education of about 26 choristers.
Posted in Architecture, Education, Historical articles, London on Wednesday, 1 May 2013
The Caplan Street entrance of Nightingale Street School
The Elementary Education Act of 1870 was the brainchild of John Forster, the great Liberal MP. Under its provisions the State now prescribed education for children from the age of five to twelve in England and Wales. Elementary education for all young children became compulsory in 1880.The fees charged by School Boards were abolished in 1891, when all state education became free of charge. School building became a great priority for many London boroughs, and the design of appropriate premises had to take into account the growing number of pupils, the need for playing facilities and the central part these institutions would play in the social life of the community. Nightingale Street School was typical in its use of large studio-style windows, and limitations of space meant that a playground was created on the roof, with elegant iron railings to protect the girls and boys.
Posted in Education, Historical articles, History, Religion on Tuesday, 30 April 2013
This edited article about Robert Raikes originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 236 published on 23 July 1966.
Robert Raikes, the Founder of Sunday Schools, and the House where the First Sunday School was held in hare Lane, Gloucester, in 1780
Ever since the earliest days of Christianity there have been special arrangements for explaining the teaching of the church to children.
What was called the catechism (a Greek word for “teaching”) formed a part of the earliest Prayer Books, including those first published in English. In them the teaching took the form of question and answer, and we still talk sometimes about “catechizing” people when we ask them a lot of questions.
In England the custom from the time of the Reformation was for the children to come into church after the second lesson at the evening service, and to be taught the catechism, there and then. Such things as Children’s Church or Sunday Schools were unknown.
It was a Gloucester man, Robert Raikes, who planned the first Sunday Schools. Raikes was born in 1735, and, as a young man, became more and more troubled at the fact that so many children in the towns were growing up in ignorance and idleness. On Sundays many of them got into all kinds of mischief and trouble, and the day seemed to mean nothing to them as a Christian holy day – which is what a “holiday” really means.
He therefore decided to gather all those who were willing to come into a large hall, and to give them some instruction. At first it was almost impossible to get them quiet. He is said to have amused them with a mop on the end of a pole to gain their attention. Gradually they were organised into classes, with senior pupils in charge. He called these senior pupils “monitors” and was the first to do so.
These were on both Sunday mornings and afternoons. All sorts of things were taught in addition to Scripture. Many children could neither read nor write, for there was no national system of compulsory education at that time. Simple arithmetic was also taught, and the parents of poor families were glad to take advantage of such opportunities for their children.
A number of people were strongly opposed to Sunday Schools. Some regarded them as a breaking of the Sabbath: others feared that too much popular education would pave the way for revolution! But the movement spread.
John Wesley wrote to Robert Raikes in warm support of what he called “this blessed work of Sunday Schools”, and before Raikes died in 1811 the movement had become nation-wide and the National Sunday School Union had been founded.
A statue of Robert Raikes, bearing the words “founder of Sunday Schools” and showing him with an open book in his hand, stands in the garden on the Thames Embankment in London.
Posted in Education, Historical articles, History, London, Religion on Monday, 29 April 2013
This edited article about Christ’s Hospital school originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 233 published on 2 July 1966.
When the order of monks called the Grey Friars came to London in the 13th century, they set up their first church and monastery in what is now Newgate Street and called it Christ’s Church. They often provided food and shelter in the monastery for homeless children.
When the monasteries were dissolved by Henry VIII, that of the Grey Friars passed with the rest to the Crown. But on June 20, 1553, the 16-year-old Edward VI, son of Henry VIII, heard a sermon by the famous Bishop Ridley, describing the terrible conditions of London’s homeless children. Six days later, on June 26, the young king signed a charter granting the old Grey Friars monastery to the City of London, and instructing the Lord Mayor to establish it as a hospital for poor and needy children.
Before long, Christ’s Hospital was looking after more than 400 children, providing them with food, shelter and a good education. The boys were taught a trade and the girls were trained for domestic service.
Christ’s Hospital boys were provided with a uniform which consisted of a long blue coat, breeches, yellow stockings, and two linen flaps or “bands” at the neck, like those worn today by barristers. This was the usual dress of apprentices in Tudor times, and is still worn by the boys of Christ’s Hospital School.
In 1778, the girls’ section of the school was moved to Hertford, and in 1902 the boys’ school was transferred to Horsham.
Posted in Boats, Education, Historical articles, History, London, Sport on Monday, 22 April 2013
This edited article about the Boat Race originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 230 published on 11 June 1966.
The first Oxford and Cambridge boat race, held at Henley on 10 June 1829 by John Keay
June 10, 1829, was a great day at Henley. It was the day when, with 20,000 spectators crowding the banks of the Thames, Oxford defeated Cambridge in the first University boat race.
The boat that carried the dark blues to victory 137 years ago is still in existence; but only by a chance discovery.
In the summer of 1855, Sir Robert Menzies, who had rowed in the first Oxford crew, was on holiday in the South of England when, sheltering from a rainstorm in a shed, he noticed an old rowing boat half-hidden under a pile of rubbish.
Something about the boat seemed familiar, and after carefully examining it, Menzies was amazed to discover that it was the actual boat in which he had rowed with the Oxford eight twenty-six years before. Menzies bought the relic and sent it to his home on the shore of Loch Rannoch, Perthshire. It was thoroughly repaired, and for many years afterwards was used for fishing expeditions.
This is not so fantastic as it may seem, for the first racing boats were not a bit like those used today. In fact, they were just ordinary rowing boats built on narrow lines, with pointed bow and stern. But after a fishing expedition in which the historic boat received a severe buffeting, Menzies decided to take no further risks and kept her in a shed he built specially for the purpose.
In 1903, Menzies’s son presented the veteran craft to the Oxford University Boat Club.
Posted in Education, Historical articles, History on Friday, 12 April 2013
This edited article about Friedrich Froebel originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 223 published on 23 April 1966.
In a Kindergarten School
Friedrich Froebel was born at Oberweissbach, Germany, on April 21, 1782. In those days, small children had a hard time when they started going to school. From their first day in class they were expected to start learning reading, writing and arithmetic.
Froebel believed that a child’s education should start when it was very young, but that teaching should be mixed with a certain amount of organized play and simple handicrafts.
Froebel was educated at Gottingen University and became a teacher in a school in Thuringia. He taught in several schools in Germany and tried to persuade the authorities to adopt his ideas on teaching children. No one was interested. So, in 1837, he opened a school of his own where he began putting some of his ideas into practice.
Because the classes were held in the open air in the summer, the school was called a kindergarten, from the German words: kinder, meaning “children,” and garten meaning “garden.”
Froebel’s kindergarten was for children between the ages of three and five. The small pupils were allowed to play, sing and dance to music. They were also given simple lessons in reading and writing.
Froebel’s kindergarten did not get a lot of encouragement in his own country, but the system was soon adopted in Britain and the U.S.A. The first kindergarten in Britain was started in London in 1850 and since then the kindergarten has been firmly established as a most important step in schooling.
Posted in Bible, Education, Historical articles, History, Religion on Monday, 8 April 2013
This edited article about the Lollards originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 220 published on 2 April 1966.
John Wycliffe preaching
In the fifteenth century, a “Lollard” was a man with whom it was not wise to be seen, but whom many people liked to hear. He was like one of the friars who went preaching from village to village, except that, instead of spreading the generally-accepted teachings of the church, a Lollard attacked them – which was more exciting!
By the middle of the century, there were hundreds of Lollards on the roads of England. The origin of their curious name can only be guessed. It may have come (like the word lullaby) from an old Dutch word meaning “to chant,” but their words were by no means so soothing!
The Lollards attacked the monks, calling them “fat and red-cheeked.” They attacked the wealth of the monasteries and the power of the clergy. They questioned the authority of the Pope. They said that every man had the right to study the Bible and decide for himself what it meant. All this was very upsetting to the monks, bishops and parish clergy, but many people, especially of the poorer classes, listened eagerly.
The man who started this movement was himself a priest, John Wycliffe. Born in about 1330, he had been in turn the Master of an Oxford College, a country parson, a writer on religious subjects, and the first translator of the Bible into English.
Wycliffe may have been argumentative and even quarrelsome, but he did not lack courage and the power to influence others.
At first, his ideas were spread by travelling friars, who became known as “the poor preachers,” because they lived very simply. Only after 1382, when Wycliffe’s teachings were officially condemned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, was the name “Lollards” given to them. After that date they were looked upon as dangerous characters, and some of them were even burned at the stake.
Wycliffe himself escaped this fate, perhaps because he died soon afterwards (in 1384). But forty years later, when the agitation stirred up by his followers was at its height, his bones were dug up by his enemies. They were burned, and the ashes flung into the brook which ran beside the church at Lutterworth, the Leicestershire village of which he had been Rector for ten years before his death.
Wycliffe’s translation of the Bible, which he had made with the help of faithful supporters, was copied out many times, widely circulated, and read in secret. One hundred and seventy manuscripts of it have survived to the present day.
After 1400, the religious ideas of the Lollards began to find a ready hearing among those who were discontented not only with the religious teaching but also with the social conditions of their day. The movement continued, and undoubtedly prepared the way for the great changes which took place in the Reformation in the first half of the sixteenth century.
This is why Wycliffe is sometimes called “the morning star of the Reformation.”
Posted in Discoveries, Education, Historical articles, History, Science on Friday, 5 April 2013
This edited article about Albert Einstein originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 219 published on 26 March 1966.
Albert Einstein was expelled from school because his work was so terrible.
In the sombre, brown-painted headmaster’s study, the young German student stood waiting to say that he was leaving school. He disliked the authority of the masters, and hated having to learn the dates and places of battles by heart, “just like a parrot.”
But before fifteen-year-old Albert Einstein could produce the medical certificate which stated that he was suffering from a “nervous breakdown,” the headmaster faced him sternly.
“Your work is terrible,” he said, “and I’m not prepared to have you here any longer, Einstein. I want you to leave the school.”
The headmaster had decided that he had had enough of this young “rebel and dunce.” But though this was just what Albert wanted, curiosity made him ask what crime he had committed to be so brusquely expelled.
The Head looked bleakly at him.
“Your presence in the classroom makes it impossible for the teachers to teach, and for the other pupils to learn,” he said. “You refuse to learn, you are in constant rebellion, and no serious work can be done while you are there.”
So the boy who in 1921 – twenty-seven years later – was to be hailed as one of the greatest geniuses of all time and awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, left the study with the headmaster’s words of disapproval ringing in his ears.
But Albert was used to being misunderstood like this. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to learn and succeed like the other boys. He just happened to be more interested in searching behind facts and figures, to find out why things happened, rather than when.
Albert’s individual way of looking at things was first noticed by his parents when he was only five years old. They were worried because their son seemed very backward in learning to talk. He joined in none of the other children’s games either, but preferred playing by himself with a small pocket compass.
Albert was fascinated by the fact that, no matter which way he held the compass, the needle always pointed to the north. This was perhaps the beginning of his interest in the workings of the universe.
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Posted in Education, Historical articles, History, Philanthropy, Religion, Sport on Wednesday, 27 March 2013
This edited article about the Victorian education system originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 211 published on 29 January 1966.
The Governess was an important figure in Victorian life and literature; this idealised picture, ‘Lessons’, is by Helen Allingham
When Queen Victoria came to the throne less than half of the children received any schooling at all. The majority even of these left school at the age of twelve or earlier. Perhaps just as serious was the lack of any means of progress from the elementary schools to the secondary schools and universities.
Children left school as soon as possible, and entered the industrial or commercial world. They then found themselves in an educational desert, though later in life workers who wanted more opportunities to learn could, if they had the time and the money, attend what were called literary or mechanics’ institutes. These were few and far between, for even in London there were less than half a dozen.
The education of women in particular was neglected, and such private schooling as existed was for the most part both expensive and bad.
As the Industrial Revolution developed it became the respectable thing for middle-class households, as well as for the aristocracy, to have a governess, and in the Victorian Age she became a firmly established institution. In the census of 1851 over twenty-one thousand women appeared as governesses.
One or two attempts to provide more schools were made in the early part of the century, but so far as the mass of the English people was concerned it was the Education Act of 1870 that really mattered. Before it became law it was estimated that there were two million children in England and Wales who got no schooling at all, while another two million were getting instruction at schools which might or might not be efficient. This new Act set up compulsory Local School Boards to provide elementary education for all children between the ages of five and thirteen, and at first it was unpopular with some parents because it meant that children were to be at school instead of doing odd jobs that brought in money.
As a whole the middle-class preferred to send its sons to Public Schools. In the early part of the century there were seven leading ones – Winchester, Eton, Westminster, Charterhouse, Harrow, Rugby and Shrewsbury, and very badly conducted places they were by modern standards. Contempt for outside opinion, an obstinate adherence to old customs, and a refusal to consider the boys’ point of view frequently resulted in rioting.
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