On Be(com)ing Clever

  • Liz Thomas


This chapter recounts how the youngest child of a Nottingham working-class family navigated her education from failed 11-plus in 1959 to a master’s degree in 1982. First in her family to go to university, she was ‘scripted’ by her father to “go out there and show them” and nurtured by a mother to always “do your best”. She and the few others who transferred ‘late’ to grammar school at 13 were reminded that they were “just an experiment”. Her retrospective account of those formative years that led to university considers how family difficulties, working-class mores of the 1960s and 1970s and the Cuban missile crisis all affected her journey into higher education, transition to middle-class status and subsequent career. She uses diary extracts, school reports and discussions with her older sister to add specificity to her memories and to work out finally what being clever means to her.


Family scripts Grammar school Books Accent Teaching 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liz Thomas
    • 1
  1. 1.NottinghamUK

Personalised recommendations