Ernest Baker & the Steering Group – Back to School!

Now that schools are opening again and children and young people are going back to school, college and university, here are Ernest Baker’s (the teenaged Geffrye almshouse resident) memories of going to school… And the Steering Group’s responses to it being back-to-school time again, and the summer being nearly over!

Monday Oct:10 1881

Left at half past 10 for Dr Klein, a physical doctor who prepares boys for examinations, and I having a strong desire to go into the army am sent there to be prepared for the Sandhurst military college examination. Dr Klein is a very peculiar man he has little or no legs, I will do my best in trying to draw him. I’m afraid this picture cannot give you a clear idea of Dr Klein, although you may be sure that I have no exaggerated a bit in the proportion between his legs and his body. I did mathematics all the morning. Went down to London Bridge at dinner time, with a bag of ginger breads. Went back and waited for Mr Hume (one of the students) who was to come ladened with French books, for our use (having finished the other books). He bought them with his own money, they were 9d each, so we each had to pay him 3d. Home at about quarter past five, had tea, went to bed.

Ernest Baker diary illustration © Geffrye Museum of the Home

Ernest Baker diary illustration © Geffrye Museum of the Home

From: ed. David Rodgers, A Victorian Schoolboy in London: The Diary of Ernest Baker 1881-82. London: Geffrye Museum, 1989.


THE STEERING GROUP’S (as well as Youth Intern Jess’ and Work Placement Betty’s) SCHOOL MEMORIES…

  • ‘I’m doing my MA course now and the university time is quite far away from me. I did my degree in Taiwan. People always said that when students pass their exams and then enter universities, they’ll gain the most freedom and enjoy life however they want. However, it’s not the truth! We have even more difficult assessments that need to be done at university!’
  • ‘I moved over an hour and a half away when I was in Year 9 to a new town where I didn’t know anyone. I had to make new friends and find my way around a new town, after February Half Term when it was snowing. I didn’t like going there at first as no one wanted to speak to me and I kept getting lost in the building!’
  • ‘I’m not going back to university until the end of September but I can honestly say I’m really excited for all the new challenges. Last year I had a tutor for one of my modules who I believe to be the coolest human being alive. He is covered in tattoos and is working towards his doctorate in European Philosophy. His knowledge and teaching has definitely inspired me in my own work and thinking.’
  • ‘I’m back at college today, I felt really optimistic about it because it’s my last year, but I know this year will be tough. I have some good memories from Year 11 prom when my Head of Year was singing.’
  • ‘I go back to university at the end of September, so I still have holidays left – I go on holiday tomorrow, to Spain! I’m excited about going back to school at University of East London because I’ll be doing a lot of sculpture. I really like the metal workshop, the teacher is really kind, he helped me learn to cut metal, it made me want to make more of my own art in metal. I did my foundation year last year. This year will be Year 1 – different room and different teachers and different courses! Looking forward to meeting new people.’

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