Michael Marland, 1934-2008

July 17, 2008

Michael Marland, the author of a much-loved 1970s "survival guide" to secondary-school teaching, died of cancer on 3 July at the age of 73.

Professor Marland, honorary professor of education at the University of Warwick, was headmaster of North Westminster Community School in London from 1980 until his retirement in 1999.

Peter Lang, associate fellow in education at Warwick, knew Professor Marland for more than 25 years. "I remember going to a meeting at his school and spotting him walking slowly down the crowded street talking into his Dictaphone, completely oblivious to the people around him. He was always tremendously busy," he said.

When the professor lectured, he used a thick collection of green cards, Dr Lang recalled. "He never had a prepared script for a lecture; it always came from the cards."

Professor Marland was one of the first educators to attach importance to "emotional literacy" and was a founder chairman of the National Association for Pastoral Care in Education. Educated at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, where he read history and English, he taught for a year in Germany and three years in Kent before securing a post in London, where he spent most of his professional life.

A keen patron of the arts, Professor Marland was a founder chairman of the Royal Opera House Education Committee. He also edited a number of short-story collections for Longman Imprint Books, a literature series for secondary-school pupils.

He is best known for his manual, Craft of the Classroom: A Survival Guide to Classroom Management in the Secondary School, published in 1975. The book gets a five-star rating on Amazon.co.uk, with one customer saying: "I wish now I'd taken more of his advice earlier in my career."

Geoff Barton, head teacher at King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, said of the book: "I loved ... its underlying sense that being a teacher was one of the most important things you could do." As a rookie English teacher in Leeds, Mr Barton got through "many a long Thursday afternoon wrestling a group of reluctant adolescents through their coursework" with the help of Professor Marland's collections of stories and non-fiction.

When Mr Barton moved to Suffolk in 1997, the professor lent him his "charming, chaotic farmhouse" for the term. "I worked in his study, surrounded by books and articles by him and, unnervingly, sometimes about him," Mr Barton said. "We became great friends as well as collaborators, and I learnt a huge amount from him about 'headmastering' and the liberating and civilising influence of teaching young people about our and other cultures."


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