NPR

A 'Ragged School' Gives U.K. Children A Taste Of Dickensian Destitution

The East End of London was once synonymous with Dickensian squalor. Now it's prime real estate. A tiny museum in the back streets shows schoolchildren what life was like in the past.
Sally Armstrong, who plays the role of ragged school teacher Miss Perkins, stands her ground. Source: Samuel Alwyine-Mosely

Miss Perkins stands on a creaking wooden floorboard, peering over wire-rimmed glasses. With a bang of her cane on a small wooden desk, she instructs her students to repeat after her: "Four farthing equals one penny."

"Four farthing equals one penny," answer the 9- and 10-year-olds. The children sit on stools, slate boards on their laps, alongside

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR5 min readPolitics
Impeachment Hearing FAQ: Who Will Testify And How The Questioning Will Work
Democrats have called three career public servants to appear for the first public hearings in the Trump impeachment inquiry: William Taylor, George Kent and Marie Yovanovitch.
NPR6 min read
Illegal Pot Grows In America's Public Forests Are Poisoning Wildlife And Water
Insecticides and other chemicals found at the sites threaten long-term damage to ecosystems. California law enforcement, ecologists and others are cracking down on the illegal operations.
NPR4 min read
'Space Invaders' Maps Pixelated Battles Onto Real-Life Conflict
The characters in Nona Fernández' new book are coming of age during Chile's brutal military dictatorship — and for them, video games are a useful framework for understanding the dangers all around.