Leslie John Robinson (b.1929): Education and Schooling

The first mention of school made by Leslie Robinson is fairly early (as one might expect) in his autobiography. His first experience of a school environment takes place not in a regular state institution, but the local Sunday school. At first there is no detail provided of the school. However, Leslie later notes that he attended St Paul’s Sunday school, and as he was housed in Rock Ferry at the time I came to the conclusion that the church he was referring to is pictured.

st pauls church 2If I am correct then that would have made him (at least until the point of his marriage to Hazel) a member of the Church of England, this faith based upbringing may go some way to explaining the regimented and responsible life he led.

Robinson’s proper schooling began at “The Woodlands School” (p.31), and we are immediately given an insight into his attitude towards education at the time of writing his autobiography.

“Schooldays are, of course, only a part of education, the world is a great university for those who want to learn.” (p.31)

I believe this attitude towards life is explained by the experiences he has growing up and entering adulthood.

Leslie does little to flesh out his experience of early school life, possibly a result of the intention he had for the autobiography, to detail interesting events and adventures. It is therefore unsurprising that he doesn’t dwell on classroom activities, with the most detailed school experience being that of the nit nurse making an appearance, and his fear of the “leper colony” (p.38) one was placed in for having nits.

Leslie does speak specifically of the discipline learnt from his parents, whom taught him that he and his brother should “look to our responsibilities before thinking of our rights” (p.52). This level of discipline and responsibility is useful when looking at how his life panned out. A period of service in the army followed by a long career in the police shows that he did not forget the life lessons given to him by his parents.

It seems from his Autobiography that while Leslie had a perfectly fine school experience, that it was other life experiences which had the greatest impact on his transition to adulthood. The fact that he moved schools at least three times during his childhood suggest a fragmented formal education experience, and this would not have been helped by the outbreak of World War 2. The air raids which blighted Liverpool disrupted daily life to the point where Leslie spent days on end in an underground bunker, or even on underground railway platforms. Hamilton Square station as it was at the time is pictured, the same station on which Leslie was forced to sleep during one night of heavy bombing.

Hamilton SquareThere is an amusing statement about the closure of schools during the air raids, which perhaps sheds light on his eagerness (or lack of) to attend school:

“School was still closed and the Tower Hill Gang were firmly of the opinion that a war that closed our school wasn’t all that bad” (p.62)

Like many boys of the period Leslie left school at a young age and proceeded to jump from job to job. He foolishly ruined his chance of becoming a chemist by skipping night school, and after a few other jobs he decided to join the military. I believe that his experiences in the army matured him immensely, and the sense of responsibility and dedication to serving others was what resulted in him later joining the police force. For Leslie as with so many children of his generation, the traditional idea of school was a mere short distraction before falling into the reality of working life.

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