Morris, Max 1913–2008
Morris, Max 1913–2008
See index for CA sketch: Born August 15, 1913, in Glasgow, Scotland; died August 27, 2008. Educator, trade unionist, and author. Morris dedicated his life to teaching schoolchildren in 1939. By 1962 he had advanced to the role of headmaster. He retired as the headmaster of Willesden High School in London in 1978. By then he had became an activist with the National Union of Teachers. As the president of the union in the early 1970s, he pushed for an increasingly activist role for unionized teachers and did not hesitate to authorize teachers' strikes over salaries, staffing levels, and even school supplies. At the time he was also a loyal member of the Communist Party. As such, he campaigned vigorously for the recognition of England's growing number of comprehensive schools as halls of equality, dedicated to the education of all children from their surrounding communities. Morris was described as an authoritarian in the classroom and a militant in the union hall. His confrontational style of unionism led to widely publicized controversies with local authorities that sometimes escalated to the national level. Morris resigned from the Communist Party in 1976 when he felt that party leaders had placed political activism above the best interests of the teachers for whom he was fighting. He did, however, chair the Socialist Education Association in the 1990s, during the organization's ultimately futile opposition to a government effort to replace comprehensive schools, including Willesden, with a new system called "city academies." Morris may have been a radical unionist, but he was reportedly more conservative when it came to curriculum issues and parenting responsibilities. He complained of parents who failed to educate their own children how to behave according to traditional guidelines, and he opposed the integration of cultural or ethnic studies into the time-honored core classroom. Morris's writings include The People's Schools (1939), Your Children's Future (1953), and An A to Z of Trade Unionism and Industrial Relations (1982). He was the coeditor of Education, the Wasted Years? 1973-1986 (1988).
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Times (London, England), September 10, 2008, p. 58.