Charles Lutwidge Dodgson tries school teaching
29 January 1856
Breakfasted with Swabey [the Rev Henry Swabey was rector of St Aldate's, Oxford from 1850 to 1856] to arrange about teaching in his school [St Aldate's]. We settled that I come at 10 on Sunday, and at 2 on Tuesdays and Fridays to teach sums. I gave the first lesson there today, to a class of eight boys, and found it much more pleasant than I expected. The contrast is very striking between town and country boys; here they are sharp, boisterous, and in the highest spirits - the difficulty of teaching being, not to get an answer, but to prevent all answering at once. They seem tractable and in good order.
1 February 1856
The master at St Aldate's School asked if I would join the first class of girls with the boys. I tried it for today, but do not think they can be kept together, as the boys are much the sharpest. This made a class of 15. I went on with 'practice' as before.
5 February 1856
Varied the lesson a school with a story, introducing a number of sums to be worked out. I also worked for them the puzzle of writing the answer to an addition sum, when only one of the five rows have been written: this, and the trick of counting alternately up to 100, neither putting on no more than 10 to the number last named, astonished them not a little.
8 February 1856
The school class noisy and inattentive, the novelty of the thing is wearing off, and I find them rather unmanageable. Showed them the "9" trick of striking out a figure, after subtracting a number from its reverse.
11 February 1856
I taught them a little about fractions, and explained the trick of the addition sum.
15 February 1856
School class again noisy and troublesome. I have not yet acquired the art of keeping order.
19 February 1856
School class better, as I threatened to banish those who did not attend from the lesson.
26 February 1856
The class again noisy and inattentive; it is very disheartening, and I almost think I had better give up teaching there for the present.
29 February 1856
[I] left word at the school that I shall not be able to come again for the present. I doubt if I shall try again next term, the good done does not seem worth the time and trouble.
JOC/EFR May 2017
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