Steve Corner & Nature Study   -   Chris Snuggs (Berners/Halls 58-65)

The recent focus on the flora of WH following posts by Kev. Smith & Glen the Groundsman of IHS inspired me to write a profile of Steve 'Pop' Corner, but when I checked I found that I had already done so some years ago!

Steve was not on the face of it the most dynamic or charismatic member of staff, but I dearly loved his Biology lessons, his patience, thoroughness and commitment. The worst thing I can think of that he ever did in five years teaching me was to allege on one school report that I was "complacent". Once I had looked up what it meant (I think it was at end of my second year!), I felt mildly aggrieved, as I always felt that I did my best - but perhaps he thought I needed a bit of a kick - which his accusation certainly provided: I was determined to prove him wrong and so worked fiendishly hard the following year! Perhaps he was just a wily old fox.

Study of the sciences is just about the most exciting intellectual pursuit imaginable, and I really miss his lessons - and those of Fred Mudd and later Peter Cox in Physics. I can't say I miss Chemistry because at the end of our second year (which finished in July 1960) we had to choose between Chemistry, German and Greek. As my best subject was French and I was a duffer at maths it seemed logical to choose German, but that was a forced choice I have always regretted.

It is no easy task to construct a timetable, even more so in a relatively small school such as WHS, which means of course that compromises have (and then had) to be made. Even so, I cannot imagine children today not studying chemistry after the age of 13 - but that may be a false assumption. It would be interesting to see an IHS timetable in this respect!

Hindsight? A wonderful thing, and not really negative, since it allows one to do better next time - and being realistic, one cannot think of EVERYthing in advance. We did a lot of experimentation in the natural sciences on the basis that doing is learning. WHS was very good in this respect, and the numerous field trips the staff arranged were also a testament to that. But in hindsight, one thing dear old Steve never did was to take us on a nature walk over the balustrade, down the valley and into the woods - where of course we could ALSO have visited the Ice House. That we all KNEW about but personally I never visited it: I cannot remember whether because it was officially out of bounds or I was just too incurious and/or busy.

I have been watching for the nth time “Anne with an e”, the latest adaptation of the sublime and beautiful “Anne of Green Gables” story by Lucy Maud Montgomery. The latest version is just stunning, and at one stage the very modern Miss Muriel Stacey does lead the children out into the woods to show them the trees, bushes and flowers. That would have been nice for us, too - but it didn’t happen. But SO many good things DID happen at WHS that this is not really a complaint, just a hindsightful observation.

What put me on to thinking about Steve was a photo I found and enhanced of him and Taffy, who between them were at WHS for 57 years. And while Topaz does not perform miracles, when it DOES work well the results can be stunning. THIS is taken from an OSP (Official School Photograph)!

Dear Steve - Rest In Peace - YOU were certainly never complacent!
I miss you - AND indeed the legendary Glyn Evans!

Re Nature Study, I devised some time ago a couple of online exercises to teach FLOWERS and TREES: