Michael Roberts-poet, teacher, rebel.

roberts

The portrait of the principal Michael Roberts as it is in our portrait collection

I was thinking long and hard about todays’ post. I was thinking if I can really ‘do justice’ to somebody that archived much in his life, yet still is mostly unknown. I probably can’t. This is internet, ‘TL;DR’ is the way of the reader around here. But what I can is at least mention him, so you can go out looking and find out what can you learn from Michael Roberts
He hung around Auden and Elliot and published his poems in a few collections, edited and co-authored books. He was a true blue poet, yet he made his career as an educator. Some thought that this is a mistake that being a teacher would kill his poetic spirit. Not so. He was good at what he did. Roberts was bit controversial at the time. See, he had this wild idea to make people think, rather than to repeat ideas. That made him a bit suspect in the eyes of orthodox teachers.
He was a principal of Marjon, even that it was only for a short time (1945-48), he had the thankless job to make Marjon a school again. After the war, when the war hospital finally moved out, the Marjon ‘…building was in poor state, the library mouldy, the furniture gone, the grounds a wasteland.’ Imagine you get that and a task to make it a place of education. But he did it.
As for me, I see him as an ‘updated’  Shuttleworth. Like him, Roberts was all for making the education a tool to combat poverty. But he went a step beyond, he saw the education as a tool for social equality, ‘…the integration of the whole people into a living cultural tradition.’ He understood how the ability to think and reflect is connected to solitude and self-reflection-you can’t learn in an overcrowded home with no space just for yourself.
My tutor once said that history is not only facts and dates, but also a relationship with the people who went before us. I might not have ‘done justice’ to Michael Roberts, but I feel richer by knowing him.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Michael Roberts-poet, teacher, rebel.

  1. Pingback: Them Elizabethans, courtesy of Michael Roberts. | Angling in the Archives: stories from the archives of Marjon university

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