Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Learning Curves 1

Learning Curves by Trev Teasdel

Gottlieb Daimler

While at the school in the 60's I did a lot of exploring on my bike of the local Cleobury area and with my parents by car during school holidays. It might be in the Midlands on a Sunday jaunt or down in Devonshire int he summer or in Norfolk (where my father's family came from) in the Easter. My father encouraged my interest in history early by getting me to read Coventry's Heritage. Through being a school librarian for the Rev Williams, I read the the histories of many of the innovative car manufacturers (Coventry being a car city), Gottlieb Daimler, Henry Ford and many more. I could tell you every car on the road at that time (not so now - I don't drive!).

While driving around or on holiday, my father encouraged me to spot buildings. I got a book how to recognise buildings and one on Place names and another on welsh place names from a second hand shop and it kept me quiet on long journeys and something to explore when cycling.

Interestingly the above book on place names says of Shropshire

"To understand the vagaries of  place-name nomenclature in Shropshire, it has to be appreciated that the county is a land of lost villages, which only emerged as an administrative unit early in 11th century and of the villages that appear in the Domesday book, many appear as farms or small hamlets today. Of 61 hamlets recorded in the Domesday survey 8 have been deserted and 35 survive as isolated farms. As a densely wooded region on the edge of the welsh mountains. its attraction to those who wanted to get their living from the soil was small.

The settlement of this largest of all inland counties was from the rivers, which is normal; but to a greater degree than most it was from the Ridgeways . the most important which was Clun-Clee. Clun, Clunbury, Clungunford, and Clunton all take their name from the river Clun, a British name that has the same origin as the River Colne in Essex. Clee, meaning Clay, is a range of hills that gave rise to even more place names such as Clee St. Margaret, Clee Stanton, Cleobury Mortimer and North Cleobury......

Neen Sollars, Neen Savage start with a British river name identical with Nene to which the names of their Norman owners were added."


Learning Curve 2

In the summer of 1965 when I was about 15, my family and aunt, uncle and cousins toured the continent for two weeks by car, camping in Continental tents (what else!). We crossed northern France to Brussels and then to Luxembourg (listening to Radio Luxembourg while actually there was exciting) and spending most of the time in Switzerland before travelling back through Germany, Holland and Belgium, through France to the ferry.

Although an avid Elvis fan at the time and in spitre of Elvis being No 1 in the charts with a gospel tune, Crying in the Chapel, recorded 4 years before, I loved a lot of the new music, encouraged further by my cousin and her friend who were a bit older, 18. We listened to the pirate stations as we traveled up the Alps, Radio London, Radio Caroline. Bob Dylan was touring France, French magazines were full of the stories with Fran├žoise Hardy and Nico. I bought the magazines in France and picked up the excitement even though I couldn't understand a word of French. Mr Tambourine Man was a new jingle jangle sound with amazing lyrics by Dylan. It's not just nostalgia to love the music of those years, there was real innovation and experimentation going on and all the more exciting as it was promoted by off shore pirate radio stations that the power that be couldn't wait to shut down. It was our music, a statement in itself against the stuffy status quo. Folk was mixed with rock, guitar riffs jangled with life and colour, poetry was delivered with harmony and often social protest, R & B was moody and soulful and Talma Motown beginning.

Often, while winding up and down the Alps they'd play Ticket to Ride. We half expected the Beatles to come hurtling down on skies over our heads.

Switzerland inspired me. we spent a whole week there around lake Lucerne, going out each day in the car touring in all directions. While there I collected booklets on Switzerland, its history and sociology. I found it a fascinating country, its political, financial and social structure.

On returning to school in the autumn, I listened more to the pirate stations, listened to the lyrics more, bought record songbook so I had the words and gained a sense of structure, eventually writing my own later in 1966 during prep!

Ken Williams, deputy head and our history teacher, introduced a new subject into our curriculum - Social Studies. We were tasked with doing a self-chosen study project on a social topic. I knew straight away what I wanted to do and I was motivated in way I had never been before. Switzerland - I wanted to study and write about Switzerland - the timing was bang on! I got a 1st for it and when housemaster - Tanky Thorn tasked us to each give a talk to the house one night, I got rare praise from him for delivering a talk, with out props, on Switzerland, despite my shyness. Something I remembered when summoning up the confidence to start teaching creative Writing many years later.

The next year I did another self study project for history - this time on Bewdley, which allowed me to go out of school during the week to do research in the town. It was noted that self-study appealed to me and I repeated the success when it came to doing my BA dissertation - another first - much higher than i got in class taught subjects. there were many subjects I was lousy at, especially anything practical like Woodwork or TD but these subjects motivated me.

(The hand writing on the Switzerland book cover says (upside down) "Reserved for Hudson and Graham" -proof that books can multi-task!)


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