Things Come Together

"Our new principal, William Simpson, a Cambridge man in the colonial education service, set about rebuilding the school. And what a job he did! His experience of colonial education must have persuaded him that 'excessive devotion to bookwork is a real danger' as he constantly intoned for our benefit, and that the cramming which often passed for education in the colonies was in fact education's worst enemy. Though Simpson was a mathematics teacher, he made a rule which promoted the reading of novels and prohibited the reading of any textbooks after classes on three days of the week. He called it the Textbook Act. Under this draconian law, we could read fiction or biographies or magazines like Illustrated London News or write letters or play Ping-Pong or just sit about, but not open a textbook, on pain of detention. And we had a wonderful library from Robert Fisher's days to support Mr. Simpson's Textbook Act."--Chinua Achebe, The Education of a British-Protected Child, p. 21.