Thursday, January 9, 2014


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 ?