Rab Butler’s Reading List

Want to read like an education secretary?

Though he disliked learning Classics at school, Butler decided he must gen up on the subject before entering Parliament. Here is what he read:

I travelled with Xenophon across Asia Minor and was easily absorbed into Herodotus. I studied Cicero and Demosthenes for style – only to find that I got more from a four-volume edition of the speeches of the Younger Pitt which themselves came from classics. I took Macauly’s History with me, and read the lot, Doughty for the Red Sea, Froude for Oceana, Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘In the south seas’, and many new authors in Australia and New Zealand on the experiments in state organisations and profit-sharing. While in India I read books on Dufferin, Curzon, and William Bentinck, and there conceived or admitted the great ambition of my life which was to be Viceroy of India.

Are today’s Education Secretaries so well read? Does it even matter?

  1. Malcolm Laverty said:

    I’d highly recommend ” Being Wrong. Adventures in the Margin of Error” by Kathryn Shulz to any Secretary of State for Education. I picked it up when both Ed Balls and Michael Gove squared up to each other in the aftermath of the election. Estelle Morris is the only SoS with the grace to publicly reflect on decisions made in office. The first chapter of this book should be given to every NQT and to everyone taking up a leadership role in a school.

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