Received: March 2021
Each history lesson from Pat Kneen began with ten minutes of ‘History Football’! Every boy in the class was given a team; mine was Wolverhampton Wanderers. The weekly league table was displayed on the notice board. When your name was called out, you stood on one side of Mr Kneen’s desk if you were the home side. Your opponent, the away side, stood on the other side of his desk. The boy playing at home was given a number from 1 to 8 and these were the number of history questions that he had to ask.
Mr Kneen then tapped with his pencil. Ten seconds in which to ask a question, followed by ten seconds for your opposing team to answer. “When did Henry VIII die?” If your opponent answered 1547, the score was 0-1. If he failed to answer in ten seconds it was 1-0, but if the home player couldn’t think of the questions to ask every ten seconds, then it was an own goal each time. This game really caught on and was keenly contested. At the end of the school year, a small trophy was presented both to the winner of the League and the knock-out Cup. A great way to learn history! I still know that Catherine Howard was Henry VIII’s fifth wife!
Mr J H Gawler was another teacher who brought Latin alive. When our class was translating the Latin about Roman forces attacking opposing armies with a catapult, Mr Gawler enthusiastically produced his own working model of a Roman catapult in the rear of the class, and launched pieces of chalk at lightning speed at the blackboard, where they disintegrated into powder! We fully appreciated the power of the Roman army.
His other novel way to make Latin interesting was to instruct all his class to learn by heart a famous speech by Cicero. Each week one of us was chosen to wear a Roman toga and passionately deliver this speech in Latin to the rest of the class. Believe it or not, I still know that speech by heart 70 years later!
We had an excellent French teacher too, R S Falconer, though he was often 10 minutes late arriving for the afternoon lesson after lunch. While waiting on one of these occasions, I started playing one of the latest ‘pop’ songs on my mouthorgan and the whole class joined in singing it, including the two stamps with our feet at the end! When Mr Falconer eventually arrived, he asked who had been playing a mouthorgan. I owned up, and when he asked why, I cheekily replied that the class was just filling in the time while he finished his game of billiards in the staff room. His stern reply was, “Carter, you will go on PS!” (Punishment School was a 2-hour detention after school on a Thursday night) I guess it was worth it.
© Liverpool Collegiate Old Boys' Association (2021)