This new tool in
education - the film camera and films
I produced a thesis - "This New Tool in Education - The
Film Camera and Films". It was well received and I was invited
to give a lecture on my new ideas at the Reynolds Hall of Technology
in Manchester. I illustrated my talk with demonstrations of loop
films, 35mm film strips using my own rear projection screen and
the 'Hanna' slide projector, and finally a showing of a selection
on 'Old English Craft Films'.
Alderman Wright Robinson, Chairman of the Manchester Education
Committee, enthused over my ideas. He had the foresight where
others remained blinkered. Whilst some considered that to introduce
films into the classroom would be entertaining children and not
educating them, Alderman Wright Robinson recognised that here
was a media that could revolutionise visual-aids in Education
and that he had met a teacher who could pioneer this new and
He told me that he too was a 'Burnley man' and not only that,
but he was a Clogger. He gave me another surprise when he introduced
e to his other guest - George Tomlinson MP Minister of Education
and an old friend of my own father.
Later we all had tea at the Alderman's home.
The Institute of Handicraft Teachers' Journal printed a report
on my lecture tours which resulted in an avalanche of requests
to speak at other meetings throughout the country. It was following
a showing of my films at the Whitworth Art Gallery that a report
in the Manchester Guardian brought me the invitation from the
Royal Photographic Society to lecture to the Society in London.
I was asked to tell them why I thought films had a place in Education.
The Society officials were impressed and it was then that
I was made an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society. My
talk on the BBC Overseas Service was my first of several other
broadcasts I made on local radio. More invitations came for me
to speak to other groups.
Each lecture I gave, and I found that I was in great demand
to speak all over the country, only served to increase my determination
to produce films for use in schools. On one occasion I was invited
to lecture at Birmingham University by an HMI Whilst I had this
feeling of honour and pride to have received this invitation,
the Director of Education in my home town of Burnley resented
the attention that I was being given by the Ministry of Education;
only reluctantly did he grant me leave of absence to go to Birmingham.
At the University I met some of the country's leading educationalists.
Here I was, just an ordinary schoolteacher from a humble background,
but with a self-appointed mission to pioneer filming for education.
My associates for the weekend were Sir William Brass MP Institute
and Oliver Bell MA, Chairman of the British Film Director of
the British Film Institute. Following this meeting my pioneering
film work became more widely known. The National Union of Teachers
awarded me two scholarships, one for £100 and another for
£150, giving me immediate national recognition for my work.
I spent many evenings and weekends travelling to meetings
to speak to lecturers in Education, teachers and their employers.
The British Film Institute invited me to a Conference of the
Scientific Film Association. On all these occasions I was given
the opportunity to show the films which I had produced and to
talk about how films could be used in education. Even professional
film producers marvelled at the quality of my work as I was a
'one-man-film-crew' and self taught in the craft of film making.
As more requests came for me to lecture away from my own county,
the local education Authority, instead of giving me the encouragement
that I had hoped for, dug its heels in and refused to allow me
leave of absence to give lectures. Only after fiery arguments
at an Education Committee meeting at the Burnley Town Hall -
was permission given to me to go to a Friday evening meeting
Opposition from the Burnley Director of Education and certain
members of the Education Committee culminated in a threat - I
was told, that if I did not stop lecturing, ways and means would
be found to get rid of me. I continued to lecture, I was determined
to beat my opponents.
In the press it was reported - "Although Burnley possesses
one of the foremost educational film makers in the country in
Sam Hanna, it has yet to get excited about it and it looks as
if some other Authority may soon take credit for opening the
way to his talents."
The British Film Institute recognised me as a leading pioneer
in producing films for use in schools. In Wales I was entertained
by the Director of Education in Cardiff. I lectured at the National
Museum of Wales, talked to the children of Cardiff, addressed
the teachers in Newport where I was given a civic welcome. My
supporters on the Burnley Borough Council were soon to know that
their confidence in e as an ambassador for Burnley had been justified
and they too could share in my pride. My opponents on the Borough
Council were more concerned that I was back in school, they refused
to accept that one of their teachers had won the support of many
national institutions, whilst they still held the view that to
show films in the classroom was 'entertainment' and not 'education'.
My lecturing had its lighter moments. I was on my way to Liverpool
University to speak to my colleagues of the Institute of Handicraft
Teachers and had to pass through Aintree. It so happened that
it was the day of the Grand National and I was held up in the
traffic near the race course. A police inspector came to my rescue.
I explained my predicament and he instructed a police motorcyclist
to ride in front of my car and take me to the University. He
did. He dismounted from his motor bike, saluted and said - "Here
you are sir, the University of Liverpool, and you are on time.
" He remounted his machine and returned to Aintree.
It was an Institute of Handicraft Teachers Secretary - Bill
Crispin, who looked after me whilst I was in Liverpool. We later
became lifelong friends. At Liverpool I was surprised to recognise
one of my old colleagues in the audience, it was Leslie Laid
who had one period had been my assistant in Burnley and now he
was one of His Majesty's Inspectors.
Here I had another influential supporter. But, by far the
most respected protagonist and friend I had was Sir Harold Parkinson.
He gave me encouragement when my opponents tried to stifle my
endeavours. When my Director of Education tried to discourage
me from giving lectures around the country, Sir Harold arranged
for me to meet the people who would appreciate the pioneering
work I was doing. He told me to use the great gifts that nature
had given to me. Like my father he told me not to afraid of any
man if I was seeking the truth. His support certainly put a brake
on my Director of Education's threats to get rid of me.
I suppose, politically, Sir Harold and I were poles apart.
But he cared for people. I remember my father had no fire in
his home, he had used his ration of coal. Sir Harold got to know
about this and he phoned me and requested that I should go to
his flat in Burnley. I remember when I arrived he met me at the
door in full dress suit. He had a shovel and a sack in his hand.
"Here Sam," he said, "I cannot let an
old friend sit in his home with no fire, put this sack of coal
in your car boot and take it to your father I'm much younger
and sitting in the cold for me will do me no harm."
His friendship I appreciated. Edith and I visited him and
Lady Parkinson at Hornby Castle. My son John did part of his
studies at Hornby Castle whilst on vacation from Liverpool University
where he was studying to be an architect. When my mother died,
Sir Harold sent me words of comfort which, with other condolences,
gave me comfort and strength at a time of great sadness.
When Sir Harold Parkinson was High Sheriff of Lancashire he
called me to meet the Judges.