Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Churchill Series - Jan. 10, 2008

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

By age fifteen, Churchill had already impressed his masters and schoolmates at Harrow with his knowledge of history. He’d won a prize for Roman History and twice won prizes for English History.

Then Churchill began to excel in another subject for which success he said in later years he had Robert Somervell to thank.

Somervell was Churchill's English master. Churchill called him 'a most delightful man to whom my debt is great."

From Martin Gilbert's classic, one-volume Churchill: A Life (Holt, 1991):

Somervell's method, Churchill recalled, was to divide up a long sentence into its component clauses 'by means of black, red, blue and green inks', and teaching it almost daily as 'a kind of drill'; by this method 'I got into my bones the essential structure of the ordinary British sentence - which is a noble thing.' (pgs. 22-24)
Somerville was undoubtedly a fine teacher. Generations of Harrovians recalled him with respect and fondness.

This post reminds us how much each of us owes to teachers. It's never too late to thank one or two or more of them.