Former NSW Labor Premier (1976- 86) and National ALP President , Neville Wran , told the Street Royal Commission in 1983 that Balmain boys don’t cry. He had attended the Nicholson Street Public School , Balmain, before going on to Fort Street Boys’ High , Sydney University and becoming a QC.
A rare find by a Little Darwin runner in North Queensland may explain why Balmain kids are so stoic . It came in the form of the 1919 book, THE SCHOOL AND THE WORLD, by Victor Gollancz and David Somervell (also authors of Political Education in a Public School ), published by Chapman and Hall, London. Riddled by bookworm, its spine cover missing , pages foxed , bumped, it contained the Balmain Teachers’ College Library bookplate and numerous library stamps throughout . And to make it more interesting , inserted was a tram ticket for tuppence halfpenny.
The book once belonged to a man who had a major influence in Australian teacher education , Scottish born and educated Professor Alexander Mackie, who married a teacher; it is signed by him , with the date, 1919. Furthermore , the preface carries the pencilled in information that the book was donated 10/4/46 to the Teachers College , Balmain , the year it was founded - perhaps by Mackie ?
Professor Mackie was foundation principal of the newly established Sydney Teachers’ College from 1906 for 30 years concurrently from 1910 as Professor of Education at University of Sydney . In these two positions he strongly influenced the academic and professional preparation of NSW teachers. In 1917 he co- edited the magazine Schooling and established The Teachers’ College Press
In the preface of the above book, the authors explained that their previous book about political education in public school, written during WW1, had attracted a number of critical reviews ,one from the Westminster Gazette which asked if the introduction of politics into the school curriculum could open the way for Prussianism in its most insidious form , the conscription of educated opinion. A Church Times reviewer –virulently hostile- appeared not merely to dislike their educational policy , but to blaspheme against the very idea of a liberal education. Most reviewers, however , had given a very warm welcome to the general policy of the book.
Chapters in the above book have headings such as Captured By The State ; The Making of “Politicians ” ; Public Schools and Freak Schools (ones where “radicals” , pupils from an " intellectualist atmosphere" attend ; Morality ; Religion ; Curriculum ; The Younger Generation and the Old.
Balmain Boy Neville Wran obviously took to politics like a duck to water . Last year, aged 85, he entered a home for the aged where Gough Whitlam also resides. No doubt they get together now and again ... who could blame them for shedding a tear from time to time ?