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Peridot Press to republish AC Benson’s The Schoolmaster August 12, 2011

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Independent Education, New releases, Peridot Press.
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I am delighted to reveal that Peridot Press, a publishing imprint of John Catt Educational, is to publish a reprint of Arthur Christopher Benson’s classic account of public school life at the start of the 20th Century, The Schoolmaster: A Commentary Upon the Aims and Methods of an Assistant-Master in a Public School.

The Schoolmaster, written in 1902 when AC Benson was a housemaster at Eton, teaching classics, is a book of plainly-spoken advice and stands in stark contrast to many of the jargon-ridden teaching manuals of the 21st century.

It was this simple approach to helping teachers best go about their jobs that inspired Jonathan Smith to write his own widely-acclaimed account of a life teaching in independent schools, The Learning Game. Jonathan, who writes the foreword to our reprint, first encountered The Schoolmaster while browsing a second-hand bookshop in 1997. He explains how reading the book came at a timely moment in his career as a teacher and as a writer.

“After reading Benson’s The Schoolmaster, though, I began to feel some strength returning, and then my resolve hardening. What was wrong with writing about our profession in simple English? That’s what Benson did. That’s what we should all do. Indeed, what was better than trying to write about a difficult thing like teaching in simple English? If Benson, in his study in 1902, could make me enjoy reading about and thinking about our job perhaps I could, a century later, make some of my generation feel the same. Perhaps I could write about a schoolteacher’s life in the way that rang bells and put a spring in the step? Perhaps I could even make the readers smile, nod, wince, laugh and feel a little bit better about themselves. Best of all, perhaps I could make some want to join our profession.

“So, I would never have written The Learning Game, nor, come to that, The Following Game, without the inspiring example of A.C.Benson. It would be melodramatic to say that coming across this book saved me, but it certainly cheered me up and helped me to turn a corner. Some might well call The Schoolmaster old-fashioned but I don’t mind that. A lot of things called old-fashioned are in effect simply out of fashion.”

The Schoolmaster will be published by pridot Press in the autumn of this year. It follows in the footsteps of the recently published The Following Game, by Jonathan Smith.  Contact the John Catt Bookshop for more information.

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