Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) notes passing of Bernard Brown (JRGS 1962-64) ...
came across his
obituary in The Guardian newspaper; it seems to have been
written in April but only published in today’s print edition, with the
image shown left.
From the July 1965 and May 1967 school magazines and other sources, I have discovered that Bernard entered the sixth form at JR in 1962, after presumably doing O-Levels at Norbury Manor school, and achieved A-Levels in Pure Maths, Applied Maths and Physics. He would have been a fellow student of people like Ian Castro, Mike Balme and Ian Davies, although a year older than them. John Cobley might also remember him. Bernard left the school to study Maths & Physics at Keele University in 1964. He must have changed course after one year, graduating with a BSc 2.1 in Political History and Science. (Keele was well known as a politically active university.)
Here are a couple of paragraphs from The Guardian obituary, written by Marshall Colman: "My friend Bernard Brown, who has died aged 77, was a teacher and linguist who grew up in Britain but moved to Germany in his 20s and happily adapted to his new country. He was impressed with the way Germany had made amends for its Nazi past, and, rediscovering his Jewish roots late in life, became affiliated to the Ohel Jakob synagogue in Munich, which had been rebuilt with state assistance. As well as English and German, Bernard spoke Hebrew, French and Italian and had an acquaintance with several other languages. He was fascinated by what the structures of language revealed about the cultures connected to them, and planned a book on the subject which, as he preferred conversation to writing, was never completed.
"[After graduation] from Keele University in 1968, he followed up with an MA in European studies at Reading University in 1969. He spent the first years of his career teaching English to adults in Britain, Italy and France, before settling in what was then West Germany, where one of his early language students was Erika Hänsle, whom he married in 1975. Thereafter he taught at the Beruﬂiche Oberschule, a vocational college in Bad Tölz, Bavaria, where he became head of English. Bernard also ran workshops for teachers in Germany, Austria and Italy, and self-published a number of idiosyncratic books with titles such as The Pleasure Principle and Begin With a Smile, designed to reduce anxiety in language learning and which he used in his workshops. Having been profoundly affected by a feeling of rejection after failing the 11-plus exam at school, he disliked streaming and strongly opposed IQ testing. He also believed that with the right methods every student can learn, and devoted time and effort to helping the weakest and least motivated in his classrooms."
Bernard is survived by Erika, their sons, Andreas, Ruben and Daniel, his brother Vincent and sisters Helen and Miriam.
Paul Graham, Iver, Bucks; July 2022 Email
Mike Etheridge (JRGS 1963-65)
adds: I can remember Bernard Brown at Norbury Manor school
when the top classes
based at a building in Winterbourne Road that was, at one time, Heath
Clark Grammar prior to the latter school's move to Waddon. I did not
know Bernard well but I can remember him being a really nice chap.
I forwarded a link to my other NM colleagues. Glen Pharoah provided the image shown right. "I remember Bernard Brown, who is pictured third from right," he says. Click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.
I find it a little surprising that none of us that joined JRGS from Norbury Manor in 1963 realised that Bernard Brown was there.
The picture of him holding the maths model shown right suggests that he may have made it. We were all tasked with making models as maths projects at NM. All the models had specific names, such as "Greater Stellated Dodecahedron," or similar. The best models were hung from the ceiling in the maths room. Those fixed with Sellotape soon fell down when the tape rotted. My last most complex models were fixed with balsa cement and painted with Humbrol enamel.
John Cobley (JRGS 1958-65) adds: Yes, I remember Bernie, although I didn’t take any classes with him. But I do remember his sparkling smile, which seemed to emanate from both his mouth and his eyes. I can even now recognize this smile in the color photo posted above. He was also startlingly enthusiastic.