Learning And Wisdom

I have just re-read 1 out of 10*, a fascinating book about politics and education. Do borrow it (public library) or buy it (bookshop or online) and you will enjoy it.

The author is Peter Hyman, a journalist who found a place in Tony Blair’s No.10 Downing Street, as part of the advisory group, as a speechwriter, and part of the New Labour under Tony Blair and Gordon Browne that proved, for a while, successful.

The author shows something of the inner working of government, the giftedness of people we know only by (famous) name, how strong characters worked off each other, teamwork essential, respect for one another a given.

But there was something more. Peter Hyman came to realise that politics was not going to satisfy him. He had his ideals – family, friendship, integrity- and he valued a good education as the greatest amongst many benefits a party and government could promise to the people. He wanted to be on the front line, as he called it, to be involved in education, to experience the challenges of teaching, discipline, the sadness of difficult schools and failing students, to see if he might even become a teacher.

He left No.10 (“1 out of 10”) and applied to be a teaching assistant in a London comprehensive school. We share those months, his admiration for a fine headmaster and a supportive and wise senior management team. He grew in admiration for his colleagues in the staff room, experienced how disruptive pupils can be in classroom and school, the chaotic lifestyle of many of the students: truancy, absences, unwillingness to learn . . . and he loved it!

The book is full of those he met in those six months and we come to envy him. A man who could give up a salaried post at No.10 Downing Street to risk taking on a career in teaching is someone to admire: his ideals, his happy family life (small glimpses) his learning the many skills necessary in a good teacher.

He made it. He is now a headmaster in School 21, a State-funded non-selective free-school in East London. We heard of him at St Paul’s, at a governors’ meeting and I wrote to him as an inspiring headmaster and educationalist. Note the name, read the book.

God bless us with love of learning and wisdom.

Fr John
(15th July 2018)


*Link: 1 out of 10