Looking back from 2013 over the past nine years, 2004 was a period of extraordinary optimism, and a real confidence that the Initiative would be able to help peoples in various parts of the world resist the increasing tendency of politicians to reduce the imparting of education to a series of separately structured sub-components. A look at the list of conferences addressed at the end of this folder will give some idea of the scale of this activity.

By a happy coincidence my son Peter, having graduated from Cambridge and completed a year with Adrianna Huffington in L.A., returned to Cambridge to do a PhD on the thoughts and writings of John Milton…  He recommended that I look carefully at the writings of Samuel Hartlib and his paper ‘On Education’ of 1644.   This was to prove extraordinarily influential for me, particularly Milton’s definition of a ‘complete and generous education fits a man to perform justly, skilfully and magnanimously, all the offices public and private, of peace and war”.  See Samuel Hartlib’s correspondence with Milton of that year (available at http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/of_education/).

As it  happened in March I was invited to address the conference, ‘Inspiring Learning for All’ held in the Mansion House in Whitehall (see copy of my speech from 2nd March ****). It was under the staggeringly interesting ceiling painted by Inigo Jones that Charles I stepped out of the window on to the hastily erected scaffold where he was publicly executed. By one of those very strange coincidences I was reminded of sitting in the Dean of Windsor’s study leaning on a very large Oak table, when the Dean  – somewhat mischievously – told me that it had been on that table that the then Dean of Windsor had brought back Charles’ body, and dismembered head and arranged for the two to be stitched back together before a hurried secret burial in the chapel (the 17th Century belief that a headless man could never enter heaven and would forever stalk the corridors with his head under his arm!). It was in the early 19th Century that the grave was excavated and the nature of the stitches were found to still be apparent. I won’t ever forget thinking about all that as I gave the lecture in the banqueting hall.

Shortly after that I wrote the chapter ‘Pilgrim or Customer?’ as the penultimate chapter in my manuscript of ‘Master and Apprentice; Reuniting thinking with doing’. That chapter explored the moral confusion of the present day, and showed that the search for morality is part of our genetic inheritance, and how it was critical to achieve a balance that would restore the significance of the individual with a recognition of the importance of the community, and the spiritual needs of both.

In March I was given a splendid opportunity to link the recent work I had been doing on adolescence specifically to the interest in British Columbia around the earliest days of the settlement of that colony by Captain Vancouver and his first Lieutenant, Peter Puget. This was probably the most important presentation (*****) that I had made up to that date, and was followed shortly thereafter with a more technical paper, ‘Adolescence; a critical evolutionary adaptation’ *****, actually published early the following January.

Three days later, and back across the Atlantic, I found myself addressing a large conference of school governors drawn from across Northumberland. It was at this conference that I noticed the massive tension emerging between the interests of the governors and their individual schools, and the overtly centralist policy suddenly being applied by the County Council officers, apparently under direct pressure from Whitehall.  That eventually involved me in a direct confrontation with the divisional director, Keith Woods, in late August as I was preparing the paper, ‘When Will We Ever Learn?’. My letter of 11th October 2004 applies. There was a continuous exchange between myself and several of the head teachers and governors of schools in Northumberland which led to me being invited back to address a conference in the magnificent setting of Alnwick Castle the following March. By that stage, disappointing as it so obviously was for so many of the people present, it appeared that the centralist policies, dictated from Whitehall, were significantly changing the structure and the mood of the local people. I remember a difficult moment when members of the audience attempted to persuade, I think it was the Duchess who was presiding at the meeting, to officially criticise the county council, but she felt, due to her un-elected position, unable to do this. See the paper ‘Northumberland: The Big Picture’, 12th March 2005 ****.

Running through all this the Initiative published a number of book reviews – The Art of Living; The Blank State, and Nature via Nurture (all ***).

An invitation to address a conference in Killarney, in the West of Ireland on ‘The Education of Travellers’ Children; A special case or an insight into the needs of all children?’. This was a fascinating conference – see the slides that were used. To me there was one extraordinarily poignant moment; most of the audience were mature, mainly women, in their late 40s and 50s, but one of them was accompanied by her 18 year-old daughter – a most striking and intelligent young woman, who was obviously under considerable strain. Her mother was at pains to explain that her daughter, deemed to eb the brightest student in her high school and expected to get very high grades, was under such pressure that he twice attempted to kill herself, and was now prevented by her doctors from attempting any further study. Conscious of this I couldn’t but help watching her as I spoke and noted the massive build-up in her interest. At the end of the first day she quietly came up to me and showed me her diary in which she had written a poem about her feelings. This she graciously allowed me to copy ‘Lost’, and it is something which I have shared very many times in subsequent conferences.

In July, having completed the manuscript for Master and Apprentice – a lengthy text for which I thought it appropriate to write a post-script. That post-script is dated July 2004.

The middle months of 2004 were extraordinarily busy, and it was at conferences in Australia, Yokohama, Birmingham, Worcester and Peterborough in England, and in Monterrey California that I developed the ideas that were to form the basis of that important paper, ‘When Will We Ever Learn?’ *****.

It was in July 2004 that the Initiative, feeling itself to be on very secure financial grounds, and currently generating annual incomes of £150,000 and more from lectures and workshops, eventually felt able to lease a six-room property on three floors in a Georgian house close to Pulteney Bridge in Bath. Not only was this extraordinarily valuable as an aid to administration, but it did mean that we could house our extensive library and resources in a building that could serve the needs of very many people. Looking back it now seems amazing that, in late 2004, Mick Waters – then Chief Education Officer for Manchester – estimated that he would like to send some 200 of his teachers a year down to Bath so that each could spend a week studying our literature and having extensive discussions as to how they would use these ideas to change practice in Manchester schools.

It was towards the end of that year that I made two separate extensive visits to Canada – Ontario, Ottowa, Toronto, the Surrey district of Vancouver as well as West Vancouver. Out of the work we did there was shortly to emerge a Canadian organisation, the Canadian Council on Learning.


JAN BASS – first of 7-day training programme Birmingham
London International Schools Assoc. London
South Kerry Development Partnership, Killarney Ireland
FEB Colchester Consortium Conference Colchester
MAR Four Oaks Cluster Group Sutton Coldfield
BASS Residential Sutton Coldfield
Council for Museums, Libraries and Archives London
Public Education in BC and the World Conference, Victoria – [Lt. Peter Puget] Canada
Oxfordshire Head Teachers’ Conference Bournemouth
Hertfordshire Head Teachers’ Conference Cambridge
Torfaen County Borough Council Wales
Sandwell Education Thinking Dinner Sutton Coldfield
BASS Residential Bromsgrove
Northumberland Governors’ Conference Newcastle
APR Wesley College, Melbourne Australia
International School of Yokohama Japan
Nigerian School Administrators Seminar London
Manchester City Council Meeting Manchester
MAY King Edward’s School Bath
BASS Sutton Coldfield
South Kerry Training Programme, Killarney Ireland
BASS Steering Group Birmingham
MAY The Marlborough School Governors’ Conference Woodstock
Saltley Training Programme Stratford on Avon
JUNE Building Schools for the Future Manchester
Manchester Primary Schools Assoc. Manchester
Birmingham Secondary Deputy/Assistant Head Teachers Conference Bromsgrove
Worcestershire Primary Head Teachers Residential Conference Tewkesbury
Peterborough Secondary Schools Conference Peterborough
JULY IBNA, Monterey, California USA
Southend on Sea Borough Council Southend on Sea
Birmingham Secondary Head Teachers’ Conference Stratford on Avon
AUG Network Educational Press CSP Leader’s Community Seminar Ilkley
SEPT Halton District School Board, Burlington, Ontario Canada
Ottawa/Carleton School Board Canada
Learning Partnerships/Ministry of Culture Breakfast, Toronto Canada
Ottawa HRSDC Canada
Rotary International District 1070, Cardiff Wales
Kings Cross EiC Workshop Kings Cross
Winchester College Winchester
Didcot Girls’ School Steventon
OCT NTVEC Conference, North Tipperary Ireland
Monkton Combe School Bath
BASS Creative Thinking Conference Birmingham
Colchester Consortium Conference Colchester
NOV Bourneville School Birmingham
West Vancouver School District Canada
Surrey School District 36, British Columbia Canada
Toronto District School Board Canada
The Marlborough School Year 11 Conference Woodstock
Joint Archive Services London
Lewisham Head Teachers’ Conference Surrey
DEC Fearnhill School Letchworth
Birmingham Secondary Head Teachers’ Conference Sutton Coldfield
King Edward’s School Bath