Film ID: YFA 3361 Video of YFA 3361 Kindergarten 1958 KINDERGARTEN 1958 Visitor TabsDescription This film captures the activities of Kindergarten children at a school in Castleford, West Yorkshire. It includes scenes of the children on the playground as well as inside the classroom during arts and crafts time. The film opens with the following titles: EB Productions Presents Kindergarten Colour by Kodachrome At the school, some of the children are in the playground running around together. A few are on rocking horses, and other children play in the sandbox. Inside the classroom, the young children participate in various activities including playing with building blocks, making clay models, and painting. The children have a milk break, and two girls are drink milk from small milk bottles. Some of the children smile for the camera, and a few boys put a puzzle together. Another art lesson follows, and many of the children stand at small easels to paint. At 10:35 it is time for recess, and the children are let outside to play. Most are running around the playground, and a few play up for the camera. While most of the boys are running around, a group of girls play Ring-Around-The-Rosie. At the end of the day, the children help to clean up their art supplies. A few children stand around a wash basin and hang out their newly washed towels to dry. Some of the children who are already finished can be seen having fun on a climbing frame. The film closes with all the children waving to the camera. Title: 'The End' Context This is a film made by amateur filmmaker Eric Bolderson. Eric was born in 1927 in Castleford and made many films in the Castleford area, and also of his trips out in Yorkshire and beyond. In the mid 1950s Eric bought himself a cine camera, an automatic Bell & Howell, and eventually an expensive Bolex 16mm (the lenses were interchangeable), which he used for most of the films he made in the 1950s and 1960s (and which he still has). These he would show in a makeshift cinema in his small attic. The son of a bookmaker, Eric took up his father’s work and became very well known in the area. Along with his pals in the local workingmen’s clubs, Eric was involved in raising money for charity, and some of the events he filmed, like the pram race in Castleford in 1962, and would show these in the local clubs and pubs throughout the winter. Unlike many who took up filming in the 1950s Eric worked mostly on his own although he was a member of Pontefract Cine Club. As well as being behind a cine camera, Eric also got to be in front of one when he played the part of the farmer in Ken Loach’s film Kes, filmed on Hoyland Common and Tankersley, just outside Barnsley. Kindergarten was made with the help of Eric’s sister, Jean O’Connor, who taught in the nursery; starting there in 1946 as a nursery nurse, before studying to become a nursery teacher in Hull in 1948. The nursery was next to the primary school; both can be seen in the film, with the 3 year olds using the prefab building built during the war. Next door is the higher school that Eric attended. The building is still there. In the 1950s many of the ideas that had been developed in the 1930s on progressive teaching were being put into practice in nursery, primary and junior schools. Jean, seen in the film in a flowery dress, had a very clear idea of what the principles of nursery schooling should be. These principles, emphasising learning through activity and co-operation, were designed to develop the child physically, emotionally and intellectually. As Jean puts it, ‘play is a child’s work’. Each activity had some benefit, and Jean saw the importance in getting children to recognise that they need to share and take things in turns. Jean’s own daughter attended the nursery, and she can be seen in the chequered skirt and yellow top on the climbing frame. Along with the other teacher seen in the film, Mrs Hunt, Jean worked to provide a warm environment in which the children could grow – something Jean was to go on doing for the rest of her working life. They were helped by their headteacher, Mary Walker, who went on to receive an MBE for her services to education. The ideals that motivated those working in the nursery can be clearly seen in the film, where the children are allowed to take part in any activity that takes their fancy, all having an educational or physical value. It is interesting to compare the film with another one held with the YFA and appearing on YFAO, Free To Grow Up, made two years earlier in 1956. This too demonstrates the educational ideals of the period at work with young children (see the Context for this film). However, whereas this has a voice over extolling these ideals, Kindergarten allows the film to speak for itself. The way the film shows the children playing in such a relaxed way, without comment, reveals the skills of Bolderson as a filmmaker, and gives the film great value. These skills are also in evidence in another film of Bolderson’s, made the previous year, Butlins at Filey, which captures Jean’s children, and his own son, enjoying themselves at Butlins. Eric also filmed, about the same time, Hightown School, the junior school in Castleford that both he and his sister attended. The year that this film was made, 1958, was a productive one for Eric; another very different film that Eric made in 1958 is Winter Wonderland. This film is also on YFAO and, along with many others in the Bolderson Collection, is held at the YFA. References The YFA has some extensive notes written by Eric’s sister, Jean O’Connor, which give a detailed outline of the activities and methods that Jean utilised in the nursery. There is also an interview with Eric and his sister, and a photo of the teaching staff at the nursery at that time. Simon Golding, Life after Kes: the making of the British Film Classic – the people, the story and its legacy, GET Publishing. 2005. (This has an interview with Eric about his part in Kes) See also the Further Information for Free to Grow Up.