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Insights into life
in Britain in the 1940s

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Brenda Wilson's accounts of living in a children's home - see the side menu - highlight some general points about what it was like to live in the first part of the 20th century.

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Hands on heads in classrooms

Until I read Brenda's recollections of punishments, I had completely forgotten that a standard way for a school teacher to get and keep the attention of a class was to instruct the children to put their hands on their heads. It was commonplace in my first school in the 1940s, although it never happened in my next school. I don't think it was a punishment particularly - more a way of getting and keeping attention.

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Speaking to authority figures

In the page on punishments Brenda reports a conversation with the Master of the home, in which she prefixes what she says with, "Please sir". Although my mother does not report verbatim conversations with school teachers in what she wrote, she frequently used to talk about them - and she too started everything she said to a school mistress with, "Please Miss" even though she was just answering questions and not asking for anything.

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