Sunday, 11 December 2016

A little bit of history in the stockroom of a Wythenshawe high school

Now I spent my entire teaching career in one school in Wythenshawe.

Over those thirty-five years I moved from the Lower to the Upper school, saw its name change as it amalgamated with another High School and left just before it closed for ever.

There will be those who muse on my lack of ambition but it was a privilege to have worked in Wythenshawe and to have had the opportunity to share a subject I remain passionate about.

Like all young teachers I thought I was at the cutting edge of making history exciting and meaningful to young people particularly when I tried introducing local history into the curriculum.

There were some successes and not a few failures.

I count the trips down the Rochdale Canal with a party of Year 9s a success but shudder at some of the contrived ways the story of Wythenshawe and Manchester was presented to the students.

But in my arrogance I overlooked that simple observation that across the country stretching back into the beginning of the last century other teachers had seen the potential of teaching the history of the local area as a means of making the subject relevant.

And so not long after I had taken over room 11 in Poundswick Lower Schooll which had once been Oldwood Secondary Modern I came across “The March of Manchester” on a shelf in the stock room.

There was just the one copy but it had clearly been meant for class room use.  By today’s standards it lacks a lot.  There are no glossy pictures interspersing the text.

Nor was it commercially produced with links to power point presentations and online references.

Instead it was produced on a gestetner printer with hand drawn illustrations.

But it was break from the old fashioned text books which were all about Kings, Queens and famous men and referred to events that were just a bus ride away.

More over it was produced in a secondary modern school which was the poor relation to the grammar school.  This I know because I went to one and then and now I have the sense that our school was less well funded than the local grammar schools.

That said many of the staff were committed to delivering the best education they could, introducing ‘O’ level courses which were supposed to be the preserve of the grammar schools.

And that brings me to Mr Eric Midwinter who wrote the little book with the help of Miss L.A. Bowls and who went on to have an eminent career in education.

I rather like the idea that we shared the same classroom and stockroom along with an abiding belief in the importance of introducing all young people to the subject of history.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; from The March of Manchester, circa 1956-67

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