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Formality & informality

 Drawing of a professor in suit with academic robes propelling himself on a scooter, he wears whiskers, glasses a mortarboard and black bowtieScooter club – professors only, 1919Sydney Harland, a trainee teacher at King's between 1909 and 1912, recalled the mixture of formality and rigour in teaching during this period, as well as the lighter side of student life.

'The professors were very impressive…all were formally dressed in top hat and frock coats, and all were enormously dignified. They had, most of them, no contact with the students at all'.

Student rebellion was a modest affair before the First World War. Harland recalled that he and friends were in the habit of waiting for their lecturer to arrive by singing, 'We're here because we're here, because we're here'.

Professor Adamson came in unexpectedly and in a dry voice announced, 'Gentlemen, you are not here because you are here. You are here because the Board of Education demands that you shall be here'.

Leisure time was spent in the common room playing whist, chess or ping-pong or walking London. Harland joined the young Fabians and heard lectures from, among others, Ramsay Macdonald and Bernard Shaw.

Saturday afternoons were spent at the Coliseum where for 6d he saw 'Sarah Bernhardt in her prime' or else visited a cinema in Brixton in the habit of showing 'depressing Swedish films'.

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