09 August 2011

The Advancement of Spencer Button ~ Brian James


An Australian Classic! Published in 1950.
This is a must read for school teachers!!

Apart from the fact that it was a joy to read a book that was so well edited ... grammar, punctuation, language, plot ... all precise ... there was so much else that made it a joy!

It was a wonderful period piece of the NSW education system. Ahhhh! The old days of The List and Country Service! This follows Spencer’s path from the 1890’s to the late ’40’s, from his days in a country school as a student to beginning teaching to principal (with Mudgee Fort Street, Broken Hill, Grafton disguised with pseudonyms.)

How easy it is to “recognise” characters on staff and Spencer’s broadsheet plan for his advancement. I can see so much of Mr B. in Spencer ... always does the right thing, upright and conventional. Spencer seems so remote and uncaring about anyone or anything including his wife.

True, nothing much happens in the book ... such is the lot of teaching! Life is spectacularly predictable (right down to the track to Advancement).