When all the world is young, lad – by Charles Kingsley

I learned this poem by Charles Kingsley when I was in Goldenbridge. Young postulants came periodically to the institution to practice out their teaching skills.  Children just could not get enough of knowledge from them, as they were otherwise left to the mercy of untrained ‘jam’ teachers. One of whom was exceedingly cruel. I distinctly remember that the teacher who taught us this poem had a distinct Kerry accent. Not only did I learn the poem, but I had the accent off to a tee. It became my party-piece years later when anyone asked for a recitation. I simply loved the poem.

Sometimes an inspector came to examine the young postulants, and we could see that they were very frightened, so we deliberately decided to be on our best behaviour. We played them up to the last otherwise, because we were not used to being treated nicely by people, and we kept testing them out. I loved every moment of their teaching. It’s such a pity that nobody invested in our schooling, as we needed so much back-up when we left Goldenbridge at 16 to face the cold world on our own.

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