E.Robinson (b.1894): Education and Schooling

Due to the poverty stricken nature of E.Robinson’s family, he was forced to attend four different schools during his years of education. Throughout his memoir, Robinson never speaks of himself as a well educated man in terms of his academic status; however he often refers to the talents and skills he has been taught outside of the classroom as the important real life lessons. The idea of schooling is not seen as a prominent theme within the autobiography, mainly due to Robinson’s distinct lack of anecdotal words about his childhood years within the education system.

Robinson describes his first experience of education as being at the Lyndhurst Grove School in Peckham, South East London. However, due to being at the tender age of 5, his memory of the school is very vague. The only account he recollects of the school was dancing around the Maypole. The idea of dancing around the Maypole was seen as a celebration of the coming of summer, as the event took part during the month of May, hence the name. The school children would be made to dress in their best clothes and perform the dance to try and recapture a “Merrie England” and was known as a popular activity through schools in the late and post Victorian era.

Robinson was forced to leave Lyndhurst Grove School however, due to the financial circumstances his parents were in. He went onto attend Ivydale Road School, however rather than describing any form of education he was taught at the school, he talks of his social behaviour. It was in 1903 when he moved again due to his family’s poverty, to Flint Street School. Robinson opens up more about his schooling experiences as he gets old, but he never discusses any form of lessoning he was taught. He talks in depth, in comparison to the rest of his education, about a competition which he represented Flint Street School in. He was chosen by his school to read out The Laboratory by Robert Browning and tells of how he finished in second place with a score of 91 out of 100, being beaten to first place by a point. Browning was born in the same area of South London as Robinson, so Browning’s locality could be why his work was chosen. Even though he was chosen to read the poem out, Robinson underplays his academic ability through the rest of his autobiography, as his talent is obvious through his positioning in the competition.

Flint Street School in the modern age
Flint Street School in the modern age

Due to the poverty stricken ways of his family, the St Marks Church Parish gave the Robinson family money to survive on through the 1834 Poor Law Reform Bill. However, in return, their son was made to attend Sunday School after service. Robinson talks of his dislike for Vicar, who undertook one of the lessons when the teacher was absent. He tells of how the Vicar’s attitude towards the pupils was poor, as he berated Robinson for replying to a question, repeatedly calling him a “silly boy”. This led to Robinson having a hatred for the School, with his mother and father allowing him to leave when he turned 14 and find a job.

It is through his employment where Robinson speaks more about the learning curve he undertook. Like many young boys at the time, he left school in search of a job to help support this family. Although he never directly speaks of the academic nature, Robinson was educated for a total of nine years, showing how he was cleverer than he suggests. Also his prominent rise through the Post Office hierarchy also suggests Robinson was much more intellectual than how he portrays himself through his autobiography.

A plaque Ivydale Road School, where Robinson attended
A plaque Ivydale Road School, where Robinson attended

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *