Standing up to speak in class

Pete Medway

I just saw a clip of old German film (1950s?) showing a class of 10 year olds in a lesson. It was striking that the pupils stood up in their places to answer a question or read out what they’d written or make a contribution to discussion. I’ve often seen the same thing in American films. Colleagues point out that this was the practice in Russia, too – with the variation that the pupil addressed not the teacher at the front but the rest of the class.

Was standing up to speak ever the practice in English schools? Within living memory, even? I don’t remember it from my schooldays – we always answered, and volunteered, while remaining seated.
We’d be interested in people’s memories relating to our schools: Walworth/Mina Road, Hackney Downs or Minchenden.

2 responses to “Standing up to speak in class

  1. I attended Sandilands Primary School on the Brooklands Estate part of Wythenshawe, Manchester during the 1950’s and then Baguley Hall Secondary School in the early 60’s. Never was a pupil allowed to stand to address the class unless requested by a teacher, and we always sat in our chairs to answer a subject question. We did however, stand to sing in music class, and to repeat/chant our times tables for math teachers. In 1978, I emmigrated to the USA, and my children always stood up to speak to both the teacher and their classmates.

  2. That’s a nice bit of evidence, Georgina. Thanks. Maybe it was mainly a European thing, taken up from Europe in the States. Pete

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