Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Sunday School

Sunday morning I met up with our education students to take them on a visit. Some were a little shaken up about the events in London the night before and did not feel comfortable traveling anywhere in the city that morning. I was sad that their last day in London had a dark cloud looming over it.

The Tube station closest to their hotel often has quotes of the day on their service update signs and this one made me feel a little emotional. 


For the ones who wanted to continue as planned, I took them to the Ragged School Museum in East London.East London has historically been the poor, industrial side of the city. The museum sits along the Regents Canal, which helped bring goods from the ports on the Thames to Paddington. This provided the area with jobs, but they were often seasonal, difficult, and dangerous. The average life expectancy in the area in the 19th century was in your 30s. There were crowded housing slums, pollution, and poor sanitation. After the Enlightenment Period in the 18th century, the ideals of equality, social concern, and the exchange of information. In the Victorian Era, many philanthropists vied to contribute to society and instill on the recipients their ethics and morals. Education was a popular crusade for them and since this was before the time of free public education, schools were set up whenever and wherever there was someone willing to do so. Ragged Schools were set up to provide education to society's most destitute and desperate children, to teach them reading, writing, math, and to study the Bible. The London Ragged Schools Union was founded in 1844 and would also give support and guidance to schools outside of London.

The museum is housed in the former Copperfield Road Ragged School, which was created by Dr. Thomas Bernardo who came to London from Ireland in 1866 to train as a doctor to later go to China as a missionary. When he saw the situations faced by the people of East London, he ended up giving up the idea of going to China and instead tried to help the people of East London, particularly the children. He set up a home for boys and a school, later opening a home for girls after he got married. He opened his first school in 1867 and it continued until 1908, after the British government had created free education for all and actually had enough schools to make it a reality.


 The museum has a Victorian ragged school classroom set-up and we sat in the tiny, uncomfortable desks while we listened to the guide explain its history.
An interesting thing about Dr. Barnardo's school is that he was completely against corporal punishment and gave all of his students free lunches. Often when you think of a classroom from that time period, you probably have an image of a very strict teacher and students being struck with paddles and rulers. Since these kids were most at risk of not coming back to school if you were harsh with them, punishment was much more relaxed. Also, because their families were so poor, by offering a free lunch it would help encourage parents to send their children and allow them to be educated, since it meant one less meal they had to worry about paying for.

I found it all very interesting!
Cool mural on my walk through Camden
After the visit, there were a few hours of free time, so I headed to Camden to walk toward Kentish Town, as there was a crepe place on the way that I had made a mental note of wanting to try. Crêpes a la Carte, which makes gluten-free buckwheat crepes with a variety of sweet and savory fillings.
Avocado, rocket, tomato, cheese - yum!
While eating, I saw a poster hanging on the wall advertising the Alma Street Summer Fair, which just happened to be going on that day, so I headed over once I finished eating. The fair took over two streets and was a big block party with food stalls from local restaurants, bands, games for kids, and tables of garage sale type items.
Camden Town Brewery had a van with taps on the side
A joint collaboration between an English and a Peruvian group, performing traditional Peruvian songs
Rainbow cake and "unicorn" cake
Because I have no self control, I had both a salted caramel cupcake and a peanut butter brownie.

After a little rest at home, I headed back to the students' hotel to walk them to the Ship Tavern for their farewell dinner. Since it was a Sunday, we treated them to traditional Sunday roast, which normally consists of a meat, roasted potatoes, vegetables, and Yorkshire pudding, all smothered in gravy. Luckily they had a vegetarian version, which was vegetable wellington - roasted vegetables baked in a pastry.

After dinner, we walked them home and said our goodbyes. They were a really good group to host and I'm glad I got to accompany them for so many activities and learn some interesting things alongside them.






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