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DEATHS OF FORMER COLLEAGUES Elisabeth Brewer [née Hoole] 1923–2008

Ray Dalton Principal Lecturer in Education 1969–1986

Senior Lecturer in English 1965–1988 Elisabeth was born in Highgate, London but spent most of her childhood in Worcestershire where her father was a vicar. She was educated privately until aged eleven, when she was sent to a boarding school. She left school at 16 and went to work in a drawing office, where she acquired her wonderfully neat handwriting which many students will recall. In 1945 she was accepted by Birmingham University to read English and this is where she met her husband to be – Derek. In January 1946 she was at home waiting to go up to University when her father volunteered her to teach the Infant Class in the local school. Her teaching career started here and, after University, she taught at a secondary school in Birmingham before the family [Derek and her 3 children] moved to Japan where she taught English part-time. In 1958 the family returned to Birmingham before coming to Cambridge in 1965, and Elisabeth was appointed to Homerton in that year. Students will recall her great enthusiasm for the teaching of English Literature. She wrote several commentaries on Chaucer, a book on the sources of the Gawain poet and a biography of TH White. Dr Derek Brewer was elected Master of Emmanuel College [1977–1990] and during this time Elisabeth was very busy organising and hostessing events at the Master’s Lodge. Elisabeth’s interest extended beyond Education and Literature. She taught herself Italian when the family had a farmhouse in Tuscany and enjoyed art of every kind. She loved walking and made five visits to the Himalayas and, after her retirement, she also completed a half-marathon with Derek at the age of 60! A lovely, gentle lady, loved by all.

John Hammond March 2009

Ray came to Homerton at a time in its institutional life when things were – to put it mildly – in a state of flux. Teacher ‘Training’ had become Teacher ‘Education’, and the teaching profession was in the early stages of making a bid for the status of an all-graduate entry qualification. That was not easy, especially in the setting of the ancient University of Cambridge, with its emphasis on traditionally well-established subjects with undoubted academic rigour. Possibly for this reason, the Homerton Department of Education was probably unique in its day in having separate ‘discipline’ teams. People in the department saw themselves as Philosophers, Psychologists, or Sociologists, followed by ‘of Education’, but sometimes with that bit very much in brackets. While he respected the expertise of such colleagues, I think Ray thought this approach to preparing teachers was, quite simply, a bit daft. Ray was as interested in theory as anyone else, as is testified by his being on the diploma course at the Institute in Oxford, which led to his coming to Homerton and, later, by his study for his Masters degree. He just did not see himself as a Philosopher, Psychologist, or Sociologist. Instead he saw himself as a Teacher. Capable of drawing on all of these disciplines, and more, in order to do what he thought was the job of teachers: to encourage young people to have the

confidence to cope with the challenges of a world outside school, and to learn to love the process of learning for its own sake. Not surprisingly then, he did not easily fit into any of these ‘boxes’ of educational discipline. Fortunately for him, and even more so for us, in those halcyon days there was a remarkable degree of autonomy and flexibility in the system, and he was able to have the freedom to focus on those areas of the college work where his approach could be developed. He became a superb tutor on the one-year PGCE course, which, because of its time constraints, focussed more on the practice than the theory of teaching, Most of all he was able to concentrate on initiating and developing strong links between the college and schools, arranging secondary teaching placements and their assessment, and especially developing in-service training for teachers in school. He also played a seminal role in showing that the world of work and that of education need not be at odds with one another. Admired and respected alike by colleagues, students and the teachers in schools, he was seen as a rock of solid good sense, expertise and good humour. Ray had a vision of how the world was changing and, rather than bemoaning change, he wanted to be involved in bringing it about. I think he must have been very pleased to see the degree to which the schools with which he worked so hard to form links have now become the fundamental base of all teacher training. One example of his prescience was demonstrated when he retired. He was ‘dined out’ by the Education Department, and as a parting gift he requested what looked to most of us like a large silver record. For all we knew it could have been an Abba long player. In his farewell speech he explained to us that this would be the means by which all our lectures, presentations, visual aids and notes could be stored and made available to students. It was an early form of DVD. That was in 1986, more than 20 years ago.

John Murrell March 2009


Homertonian - Number 13  
Homertonian - Number 13  

Homertonian - Number 13