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Hilda Pickles has been involved in education in one way or another for 75 years on Tyneside and in Cumbria, and in “Crooked Sixpences among the Chalk” she draws on this experience to convey her attitudes towards education both then and now. However, the book is conceived mainly as a “work song”, an attempt to put into words what she has learnt in order to give encouragement to teachers who may be new or nervous in their profession. Drawing on a great love of literature and music to illustrate her reminiscences, the author provides a detailed picture of schools in the 30s and 40s and how Depression, War and Evacuation affected both pupils and teachers. The title is inspired by the nursery rhyme: “There was a crooked man/ who walked a crooked mile/ and found a crooked sixpence/ by a crooked stile and alludes to the author’s often frustrated, yet ultimately optimistic attitude towards the teaching profession.
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