Who was he? A man of science, a forward thinking man and an example that you can change the world. With a proper load of luck and a steady supply of hard work, of course. 🙂
He started out as a banker, but his love for science made him to enrol the University of Edinburgh and study medicine. After he graduated, he settled in Manchester and opened a practice. But was he content just practicing medicine and cashing on his education? Nope. He served on the local Board of Health, conducted medical research and got involved in organizing various help for the poor. So here he was, a person already in position to help others. But was he content with doing just that? No, it was not enough for the good doctor Kay to treat the symptoms; he wanted to treat the disease.
I guess he have seen a lot of misery, disease and poverty, both as a student helping during the typhus epidemic as well as in the course of his own medical career. Was there one thing he saw or was it the accumulation of the contact with the poverty that made him think:’ Ok, this poverty thing- it has to go.’
‘He thus became profoundly impressed with the belief that the remedy for much of the evil around him lay in developing the intelligence and raising the character of the people’ (Adkins 1906) I.e, he realised that the only way to make things better is to give people education, but you can’t have education where there is no teachers, can you?
He and Mr. Tufnell (who should be named the honorary founder for all his help) visited various schools abroad, to see how the things were done over there. All they have learned from their journeys they put into the Battersea Training School. It was established in the Battersea House that Kay bought in 1840. It was supposed to be an experiment, an attempt to establish an example to follow and to show how to make proper teachers. I guess it worked better than expected, because the experiment, that was meant to run for two years, kept on going until the merging of the two Colleges in 1923. After the success of Battersea Training School, the colleges for educating teachers started to appear and St Mark’s College among them.
He could have been rich and respected in his field. Instead, he decided to drop everything and create the modern education. You just never know with people.:-)
Source: Adkins, T. (1906) The History of St John’s College. Westminster: National Society’s Depository