FEN 5 – The legacy of Henry Wilt

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

I started off the week noting that I was in thrall to the astonishing John Lilburne.  Another hero, albeit of a very different kind, is Henry Wilt.  Now, it's difficult being in the Fens and not to think of Wilt, that oppressed everyman struggling against the world, his wife, and the management of Fenland College of Arts and Technology where he has worked for ten years as an assistant lecturer (grade 2) in the Liberal Studies department "teaching classes of Gasfitters, Plasterers, Bricklayers and Plumbers" (and Butchers).  His remit at Fenland is to help to civilise youth on day-release apprenticeships.  The syllabus, gifted to the likes of Fenland by an out-of-touch left-liberal elite, demands that Lord of the Flies, Candide, Sons and Lovers, etc are the vehicles to achieve this.  Madness, of course, but Wilt is stuck with it, along with the eponymous (and egregious) class of would-be butchers that is Meat One.

Written by Tom Sharpe in 1976, I particularly like the satire around Fenland College's ambition to be a Polytechnic – no doubt it would now be a University had it really existed.  I thought Sharpe captured very acutely the existential dilemmas of being an FE lecturer caught in the jaws of the student - management vice.

Sounds just like university lecturers today.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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