Thomas Raymont (1864 – 1953)

From the papers of L.R. Reeve* - this profile of Thomas ('Tommy') Raymont,  an unsung educationalist. His Principles of Education is still in print with the bald declaration on the cover 'b. 1864.' He died in 1953 and the book he appears to have written in old age was Modern Education (1935). Reeve, a native of Newton Abbot, refers to him as 'the great Devonian'...


It is a good many years since Thomas Raymont, M.A., wrote the Principles of Education, one of the standard books of its kind, but even today no one could read it for the first time without feeling that he had learned some immutable laws on child guidance; and if any earnest student asked me whether there was one sound book on the market for students in training I should suggest Raymont's sensible contribution which was written when the author was an exceedingly busy educational giant.
  Shortly after he ended his two years as student at the Borough Road Training College and was top at the final examination, I believe he was appointed as lecturer at his old college, and there is no need to stress the fact that such an appointment to a young man is rare.
  During the very first lecture delivered to a group of freshmen at Goldsmiths' College where he was Vice-Principal, Raymont pronounced the word knowledge as "Nollege". A smart young Alec jumped up, "Excuse me, sir, but shouldn't the pronunciation be 'No-ledge'?" The lecturer's eyes twinkled. "I don't think so. You may perhaps hear one or two curates say 'No-ledge', but no one else I should think." It was very rare to find "Tommy" unable to cope with an unexpected situation.
  Some students felt that Faymont's lectures were somewhat dreary. I was not one of them; for when the subject is Education no one should expect every lecture to be exhilarating. Anyhow, he maintained the general attention of his disciples on every occasion and when he really pulled himself together he was irresistible.
  It is not generally known to the public that even in a training college the Ministry of Education sends its accredited inspectors to walk unexpectedly into a lecture room and listen to the tutors earning their salaries. Immediately after a lecture had commenced one morning an inspector entered unobtrusively and sat at the back of the room to watch the Vice-Principal in action. Raymont, not to be put off by a visitor possibly less qualified than himself, simply raised his eyebrows, immediately continued his lecture apparently not a bit thrown out of his stride, except perhaps that the lecture became more than usually interesting.
  Goldsmiths' College used to be – and perhaps still is – the largest mixed training college in England. There were more than five hundred students. Moreover there is an Art Department catering for many young artists not usually qualifying as teachers, and what with hundreds of evening students of all ages, to be a Vice-Principal of Goldsmiths' is to control a highly complex and obviously very important human society. Hence, when the First World War affronted society, Mr Loring, the Warden, was called up as captain in the Scottish Horse and Mr Raymont, acting Warden, eventually succeeded the first Warden (killed in action) and continued in this office until his retirement.
  He was of the type whose feet are always on the ground. But in spite of the fact that he never accepted every new theory immediately presented to him, he always appeared to be tolerant of new ideas and was always prepared to examine carefully any new educational propaganda which arose from time to time. Furthermore, one of his characteristics always received my full approbation. With his office staff and academic colleagues he was not too fussy. He paid them the compliment of being sensible people, gave them an assignment and rarely interfered with their responsibility, “You let me down, I’ll let you down” was one of his mild threats; and I can give one instance of his method.
  After I left college I had a contract with a weekly to write an article on Goldsmiths’. Professor Raymont was quite agreeable and asked Dr White, music lecturer, to give me every assistance. We worked together famously and as far as I know the only time Dr White approached Raymont was to ask for his photograph. The contribution duly appeared in the press. Everybody seemed satisfied except myself. My unimportant grievance was that some of my fellow ex-students couldn't believe that the actual writing was my own work. They little knew of the hours I spent on the task.
  Among my sheaf of memories is a college debate. A number of our lecturers took the chair at our debating society and thereby gave us lessons in chairmanship. Raymont officiated on one occasion; his control of the meeting was perfect, and his procedure was an immaculate lesson on how such things ought to be done. Then, on one trifling occasion he really caused a sensation. Having over a period of years grown a luxuriant, heavy moustache he appeared at assembly one morning with a clean upperlip. The result was astonishing for few knew what fine features he had; I am sure everyone agreed that the new look was an improvement on yesterday's appearance.
  Another highlight was when he returned to England after a lecture tour in America and gave an account of his experiences at a reunion of old students. One of his most enjoyable memories concerned a young American student who informed him after one lecture, that she couldn't understand a word he said, but she just loved to hear him talk.
  This great Devonian chose St Ires, Cornwall, for his retirement. In spite of his failing eyesight his restless spirit permitted no letting up of sharing his well-stored knowledge with students, for he wrote at least one more publication for the benefit of those in the world of education.

* The papers of the long defunct literary agency Michael Hayes of Cromwell Road S.W.5  - parts of a manuscript memoir by one L.R. Reeve of Newton Abbot, South Devon. Mr Reeve was attempting to get the book (Among those Present: Very Exceptional People) published, but on the evidence of the unused stamp Hayes never replied and  L. R. Reeve published the book himself through the esteemed vanity publisher Stockwell two years later in 1974.

L R Reeve had, in a long life, met or observed a remarkable selection of famous persons. He presents 'vignettes' of 110 persons from all grades of society (many minor or even unknown) they include Winston Churchill, Dorothy Sayers,  H H Asquith, John Buchan, the cricketer Jack Hobbs, J.B. Priestley, H.G. Wells, Marconi, E.M. Forster, Duchess of Atholl, Marie Stopes, Oliver Lodge and Cecil Sharp -- 'it is unnecessary to explain that  many have known have not known me. All of them I have seen, most of them I have heard, and some of them have sought information, even advice from me." Reeve states that the unifying qualification all these people have is '… some subtle emanation of personality we call leadership, and which can inspire people to actions  unlikely to be undertaken unless prompted by a stronger will."

Reeve was a teacher throughout his life and deputy head of 3 London schools, headmaster of Loughborough emergency schools, ex-president of London Class Teachers Association  and very early member of the British Psychological Society (55 years)... I calculate he was probably born in about 1900. His style is markedly unexciting but he has much information unavailable elsewhere.. He sent several typed manuscripts to (from the smell) the chain-smoking agent Hayes… 

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