‘Be Realistic, Demand the Impossible’: A Memoir of Work in Childcare and Education

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by Helen Penn (Routledge, £23.99)

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Through Helen Penn’s recollection of her experience as a teacher, social worker, writer, academic and campaigner, we see a history of societal and policy changes over the past 70 years. This memoir, which covers her experiences in London, Scotland, Europe and in Southern Africa and Asia, is also an assessment of the education system and its flaws. Now a visiting professor at UCL, Penn says, ‘My own narrative here reasserts that change always involves other people as much as it does abstract ideas…it is impossible not to refer to a social envelope or to the difficulties of conformity within it.’

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