Mr. Joseph Batey
(By "Observer," of the "Sheffield Daily Telegraph")
Mr. Joseph Batey's return to the Pupil Teacher Centre as its Head will interest all sorts of people. It will do more than interest teachers - especially young teachers. It will stimulate them. The appointment is a demonstration of the value of grit, determination, and personality.
As a much younger man, Mr. Batey, without artificial aids, secured the headship of the centre. Then a new wave swept over the School Board, which was then in command of Sheffield Schools, and Mr. Batey disappeared. When he re-appeared he was Headmaster of one of the Elementary Schools.
What had happened? Some one had been judging him - as so many men are judged - not by his head, or even his body, but by his tail - or his absence of tail. There were no letters at the back of his name : and his ability and the power of his personality counted for nothing against that fact.
I am not going to condemn the value of a degree. It is a sort of hall mark. It sets a useful standard. But where is the degree - which are the magic letters - which establish a man's power and success as a teacher? The power to pass examinations is great. The power that helps others to pass examinations, and to become valuable citizens, is greater.
Mr. Batey had the one : he had not got the other. He had the power to influence : he had not the hall mark. But he has returned to the P.T. Centre as its Head. Which fact is a condemnation of the action of years ago, and is a sign that men plus ability and plus personality may, by and by, be accounted of as much worth as men plus only degrees.
"Turn Again Whittington."
These points are interesting, but what is more useful is the fact that Mr. Batey took the change in his status like a man. When he went to the elementary school, he gave to it the energy and the initiative and the inspiration he had given to the centre. It was a hard test of the greatness of the man. He might have lost hope. Lesser men would have done.
I don't know that he ever
heard, as he climbed the hill to Gleadless Road, the bells of Bow Street
or Holly Street calling across the smoke-laden atmosphere - "Turn again
Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London," or - "Keep it up Batey, we mean
to have you back again." I have had many intimate conversations with
him, but he has never revealed to me that calls of that kind came to him.
Whether they did or not, he carried on as though there had been voices
The fact is, of course, he could do no other. He is built that way. Some men are. He has an inexhaustible supply of energy and ideas. He could not give less than his best. His make-up would not permit. When he grows slack and slow he will die.
The biggest thing he attempted and carried through while at Gleadless Road was the Empire Pageant. Had Sheffield really appreciated the value of such work, Mr. Batey would have received degrees and other things. For the educational value of the Pageant, and the organisation displayed, were quite exceptional.
When he was sent down to Carter Knowle Road School, he developed hard work on quite pioneer lines, teaching his boys how to apply the lessons of the classroom, how to find work interesting, and how to make themselves useful.
What Students May Expect
He has always been a pioneer. We see that in his Holiday Homes Scheme; in his work for getting slum children into the country; in his care for the Page Hall Orphanage, to which he has given much of his time; in his Literature Classes in connection with which he organised summer excursions to the Continent in the years before the war; and in his keen support of the N.U.T., of the Sheffield Branch of which he is now Chairman. Many a summer holiday he has devoted to the children.
Then, not finding day school, evening classes, Union work and so on sufficient for his energies, he has become a sort of supernumerary in the Church of England. Every Sunday finds him conducting services and preaching sermons either in Sheffield or the district. And the, I believe, he hunters for yet more work! When he would do it cannot say : but his eagerness to do is beyond the power of any man to harness.
So that the P.T. Centre may know what to expect. He will have a high standard. He will work hard. He will expect the students to be equally untiring, and equally head-over-heels in love with work and progress. I hope he will find time for Wednesdays at High Storrs. That is where the students ought to take command and see that he becomes as young as any of them in their pursuit of the hockey ball or the cricket ball. The young people who serve under him will have only themselves to thank if they do not take high places where the students of the Centre always have done well - in University or Training College.
Mr. Joseph Batey died in February 1931 - OBITUARY