1940

Very little information remains at our disposal regarding Mr H Cartwright Robinson. He was appointed principal at the end of July 1940 and came to the school with a “fine reputation”. He was formerly a teacher at the Boys’ High School in Pretoria and at Hilton College in Natal. In 1936, he became principal of the Springs West School, which post he relinquished on being appointed to the Principalship of Sir John Adamson High School.

It would the appear that December 1940, shortly after his appointment, H Cartwright Robinson, volunteered for active service during World War II. He was given military leave and records show him on “Active Service” up until 1945. No records appear after this date.

EXTRACT FROM THE 1941 PRINCIPAL’S LETTER TO PARENTS

Turffontein,
December, 1940

This, my first magazine letter to you, is written while I am still a newcomer, not yet personally known to many of you. I hope that our acquaintanceship will rapidly widen.

Nor are you the only new feature in my life. When I came to Turffontein at the end of July, I knew nothing of the Sir John Adamson School – except that it enjoyed a wide and good reputation – and the work of a Junior High School was known to me only through reading and discussion. So I am still on the fringe of personal experience in my new job, and during the four months I have spent here I have had time to do little more than gather first impressions, while trying to keep the machine running as smoothly as possible without straining it by too many adjustments.

One thing I find disturbing. That is the short period most of our boys and girls spend at School. There are in Standard VI (Form I) close on 300 pupils, In Form III, our Junior Certificate class, we have a meagre 35. Does this very great shrinkage indicate that too many of our scholars are being withdrawn from School at the first sign of a job, whether particularly suitable or not, or indeed in the mere hope of “some sort of job turning up’? If education is worth having, it is surely worth pursuing in normal instances, until at any rate the end of the Form III stage. I do realize, of course, that in these days there are often special circumstances to be considered. In a number of homes the absence of the father on active military service has seriously affected the domestic finances; and in other homes too the war has produced difficulties. But, wherever possible, I would exhort parents not to turn their children out into the workaday world without a reasonable foundation of general education. For general education gives them much to fall back on in later life, quite apart from improving school-leaving qualifications.

In the Sir John Adamson School parents of the Southern Suburbs have a school with splendid and well-established traditions. But to maintain those traditions in full and permanent vigour, we need a strong body of pupils who spend more than one year in the School. In the first year pupils spend much of their time getting over the new boy or new girl feeling. It is in the later years that School traditions flourish to bear their
first fruit.

One instance of this is to be found in the disappointingly limited interest taken in School games. I should like to see more whole-hearted support of School teams by those who are not themselves called on to play.

Here is a very pleasing impression. A visitor to the School said to me: “This is always such an enterprising School.” As I think of, and daily see signs of, the School’s many achievements during recent years, I feel that the visitor’s compliment is amply justified. I hope that with the co-operation of parents we shall be able to keep that reputation for enterprise undiminished.

Your support during 1940 in the form of School fund subscriptions has been excellent. I am looking forward to its being just as good in 1941. We end the year with a number of accounts outstanding. To liquidate these, and to meet essential commitments for next year we need not only a good, but early response to our appeal for funds. This is the more true since war economies have deprived us of any immediate possibility of grants-in-aid from the Administration.

Apart from the retirement of your old friend, Mr Butler, there have been, as you will see from this magazine, various other staff changes. Of these I would like to mention in particular the absence on military service of Miss Valentine, Mr Dick, Mr Teare and Mr Corbett – who were more fortunate than I myself in their attempts to get into the forces. We hear good reports of these Adamsonians, and have been fortunate enough to see Mr Corbett back at School on two or three occasions since he put on Air Force uniform. Miss Valentine is in the north, and our other staff representatives on service are still training in the Union. (I trust I am not revealing State secrets!) Mr Cheadle had the disappointment of spending only a fortnight in the army before an old leg trouble found him out and caused the military authorities to send him back to us – which was good fortune from our private point of view. Certain other members of the staff who have tried to join the forces have so far been unable to do so owing to the difficulty of finding substitutes for their work.

I am sorry that I have not been able to meet more parents. Until the end of November I was living at Springs, but have now made my home in Johannesburg. I will therefore now be easier for me to establish contacts with you after school hours.

May I very emphatically express the hope that whenever you are anxious or doubtful about your children’s prospects, or their progress or general well-being, you will not hesitate to seek an interview with me. Personal exchange of views between parents and teachers is indispensable in the meeting of difficulties, and the solving of individual problems.

Next year we propose to have a section of Form II taking mathematics. Through this certain pupils may find it easier, should the desire or the need arise, to go over to a High School course; and all who take mathematics will be adding invaluably to their general educational stock.

Another change I have in mind is the introduction into the curriculum of shorthand-typing. At the moment I cannot tell you whether this will be possible; and if it is, the introduction cannot initially be on a large scale.

To all of you in these difficult days I send my greetings for the Christmas season and my wishes that 1941 may be successful and prosperous to you. The greatest wish of all, which we all share, is that during next year the war may come to an end with the defeat of Hitlerism.
Yours sincerely,
CARTWRIGHT ROBINSON