Professor Harold Rosen - Palmers Green Park Bench

A fairly ordinary bench in Palmers Green's Broomfield Park - by the perimeter wall at the southern end of the ponds - carries a small memorial plaque to Profesor Harold Rosen.

The unassuming inscription, stating he "...would have enjoyed a rest on this bench",  gives no hint of his remarkable life.

Harold Rosen was born in Massachusetts USA to a Jewish immigrant family - his father having fled from Tsarist Russia.

At age two Harold himself  came to live in London's east end with his mother after his parents' marriage break-up.

Growing up in the febrile and polarised political environment of the  "between-the-wars" east end Harold joined the anti-fascist movement and became a member of the Young Communist League. Along with his wife Connie he took part in the Battle of Cable Street  (See photo of commemorative mural at Cable Street), where the local community prevented Oswald Moseley's Black Shirts - The British Union of Fascists - from marching through a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood.

After studying in London Harold Rosen became a school teacher before moving into teacher training, including a role at the Institute of Education in Bloomsbury. Rosen was a significant part of a change in educational theory and policy that put the culture and varied life experiences of the students at the heart of the curriculum - this included introducing more modern literature and different voices into London schools. Rosen's influence in changing practice was via a scheme called the London Association for the Teaching of English (LATE), which provided a forum for the capital's teachers and teacher trainers.

One local school, Minchenden, was a significant part of this scheme and has recently featured in a study of its impact. (Minchenden operated on a couple of sites in Southgate and Palmers Green until it was merged with Arnos Grove school to form Broomfield a fascinating web site records it history).

Throughout the 1960s and 70s education policy was fiercely contested politically - however much of what Professor Rosen proposed is now common practice in mainstream schools.

website collating a bibliography of Professor Rosen's educational theory has been established by one of his sons Michael Rosen; the poet, broadcaster and former children's laureate.

Michael Rosen has often referred to own his family and his own childhood in his writing - particularly his poems for children. In the video below his short performance piece "Hot Food" directly references his father Harold Rosen.  Michael has said this incident was how, for the first time, he found out  that his father "didn't know everything".


Professor Harold Rosen, Educator 1919 - 2008

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Comment by Kathleen Duffy on July 1, 2012 at 16:02

Thanks for that - it was brilliant. 

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