Monday, 28 April 2014

Now they’re fighting about our old English teacher Frank Miles on Twitter!

I was intrigued to read the following tweet from the Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson (who went to Cambridge) in my Twitter time-line this morning:

I remember my Professor of English saying he had almost identical entrance exam answers from pupils at King's Wimbledon

Another of her tweets read:

He  [her professor] was talking about the applicants in a single year writing the same essay given to them by their brilliant head of English.

Well, it doesn’t take a genius – let alone me – to figure out that the Cambridge professor was traducing the reputation of my old English teacher, Frank Miles. I think what the blister probably meant to say was that KCS pupils sitting the Oxbridge entrance exam tended to produce essays to a uniformly high standard rather than that they appeared to have been cribbed from an “example” essay handed out to the class by their teacher, but that traditional academic cattiness and professional jealousy prompted him to over-state his case.

In response to Alison Pearson’s original tweet, stefanstern had this to say:

The head of English was a v impressive and much-loved Leavisite...close reading, high moral seriousness. And similar essays!

…which would suggest that Mr Stern might very well have been taught by Frank.

My own response to Allison Pearson was as follows:

No trickery, no second-guessing of likely questions, no essay examples handed out - just brilliant, inspirational teaching

I suppose these sorts of suspicions are inevitable in an age when worldly success so often appears to be the result of spivery and rule-bending. I wonder what Frank would have made of it all.

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