Michael Cherniavsky

Share your memories and stories from your days at school, and find out the truth behind the rumours....Remember the teachers and pupils, tell us who you remember and why...

Moderator: Moderators

sejintenej
Button Grecian
Posts: 3107
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2005 12:19 pm
Real Name: David Brown
Location: Essex

Re: Michael Cherniavsky

Post by sejintenej » Thu Dec 17, 2015 8:30 pm

michael scuffil wrote: (I know from personal experience how old-fashioned modern-language teaching was, and I also know -- because he said so -- that Neil Simms was horrified at the state of PE when he arrived in 1962). .
I think the problem in respect of languages was that since nobody could afford to travel (there was a miserly foreign exchange allowance under the 1948 Act) there was no apparent logic or seen need to learn. An S.O.E. instructor (brought up in France) condemned my French teacher as not knowing the first thing about the language. German - from what I heard the first term was spent learning to write a different script which even Germans don't use now. On the other hand Herbert, who had taught at a Spanish university, gave confidence.

P.E. There was nobody to teach the monitors what we were supposed to be doing so it was a waste of time. Athletics was as bad with needed equipment being locked away and hurdles deliberately turned to cause injury. Of course we were not allowed to get first aid (on pain of a thorough beating) or sue the school
“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love ...”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 167AD

User avatar
J.R.
Forum Moderator
Posts: 14817
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 4:53 pm
Real Name: John Rutley
Location: Dorking, Surrey

Re: Michael Cherniavsky

Post by J.R. » Fri Dec 18, 2015 2:21 pm

sejintenej wrote:
michael scuffil wrote: (I know from personal experience how old-fashioned modern-language teaching was, and I also know -- because he said so -- that Neil Simms was horrified at the state of PE when he arrived in 1962). .
I think the problem in respect of languages was that since nobody could afford to travel (there was a miserly foreign exchange allowance under the 1948 Act) there was no apparent logic or seen need to learn. An S.O.E. instructor (brought up in France) condemned my French teacher as not knowing the first thing about the language. German - from what I heard the first term was spent learning to write a different script which even Germans don't use now. On the other hand Herbert, who had taught at a Spanish university, gave confidence.

P.E. There was nobody to teach the monitors what we were supposed to be doing so it was a waste of time. Athletics was as bad with needed equipment being locked away and hurdles deliberately turned to cause injury. Of course we were not allowed to get first aid (on pain of a thorough beating) or sue the school

Strange but true. I did French up to 'O' level, but didn't take the exam.

A few years after leaving school, I spent some time in the South of France at Frejus, near Nice with a girl-friend of the time and discovered exactly how wrong some of my 'teaching' had been.

If I watch a French film on TV, I can follow without sub-titles, IF they don't speak too fast. Something I wouldn't be able to do if I had to rely purely on my school French lessons !
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

User avatar
LongGone
Deputy Grecian
Posts: 285
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2008 4:17 pm
Real Name: Mike Adams
Location: New England

Re: Michael Cherniavsky

Post by LongGone » Fri Dec 18, 2015 3:30 pm

There may have been problems with teaching French, but it really stuck with me. A decade after leaving CH I had to take a French competency exam. I decided I would take it right away, to find out how much work would be needed to pass. To my amazement I was in the 99th percentile. Of course this may also be partly due to the poor language skills of most Americans lowering the standard.

As a follow-up to my comments about teaching in general, I admit that there were some extremely innovative aspects built into the science teaching. There were two things that made it less effective that it could have been. First, there did not seem to be any new equipment. For example, most microscopes generally looked as if they were from the 19th century. This may reflect a tight budget, especially following WW2, but a science curriculum intended to promote a hands-on approach really needs a constant updating of methods. Second, and this is not the school's fault, the majority of the A-level sciences were generally out of date. For example, zoology emphasized anatomy and other descriptive aspects at the expense of more recent advances.

As for the Watson-Crick paper; it may have received little attention in the first two years (largely because so few people had the training to really appreciate it), but by the end of the decade publications about DNA had increased almost 100-fold. Being short is not a problem for publication per se (Fritz Lipmann's paper that lead to the discovery of coenzyme A was under 500 words long), it is just that few papers can be made so concise since they need a methods section. Even now Science and Nature encourage short communications as an accepted way of publishing.
If a stone falls on an egg: alas for the egg
If an egg falls on a stone: alas for the egg

sejintenej
Button Grecian
Posts: 3107
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2005 12:19 pm
Real Name: David Brown
Location: Essex

Re: Michael Cherniavsky

Post by sejintenej » Fri Dec 18, 2015 3:36 pm

J.R. wrote:
sejintenej wrote:. An S.O.E. instructor (brought up in France) condemned my French teacher as not knowing the first thing about the language. On the other hand Herbert, who had taught at a Spanish university,gave confidence

Strange but true. I did French up to 'O' level, but didn't take the exam.

A few years after leaving school, I spent some time in the South of France at Frejus, near Nice with a girl-friend of the time and discovered exactly how wrong some of my 'teaching' had be
I passed O level French and that same SOE man reckoned that he would have had problems with the French paper. However, when in France he had no problems whatsoever (obviously it helped having spent the first 12 years of his life there). He also spoke fluent German (POW from day 5 of WWI), Russian ( a mixed nationality POW camp) some Spanish and some Japanese!.

Frejus - remember that every part of France has its own accent/dialect/patois which there would have been Provençal (Occitan) which is almost closer to Spanish than French. It would also depend on the choice of desirable words which would never be taught by a tight-arsed CH teacher. You would need a pillow dictionary! It took me three years to really understand my neighbour and adjust my pronunciation (and he never speaks patois to me!). I can just about read the local Oc but certainly not read it

Oliver
3rd Former
Posts: 29
Joined: Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:59 am
Real Name: Oliver Underwood

Re: Michael Cherniavsky

Post by Oliver » Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:17 pm

In the Times Literary Supplement of 24 Feb 2017 there is a book review containing a prominent photo of a young Michael Cherniavsky, with another medieval historian. However don’t rush to read it to learn more about the Chern, for the review is of

Ernest Kantorowicz: a Life, (by Robert E Lerner and published by Princeton Univ Press).

The Chern is not even mentioned in the review’s text. If someone reads the book, please let us all know if it says anything interesting about him?

sejintenej
Button Grecian
Posts: 3107
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2005 12:19 pm
Real Name: David Brown
Location: Essex

Re: Michael Cherniavsky

Post by sejintenej » Thu Apr 13, 2017 4:49 pm

J.R. wrote:
Fri Dec 18, 2015 2:21 pm

A few years after leaving school, I spent some time in the South of France at Frejus, near Nice with a girl-friend of the time and discovered exactly how wrong some of my 'teaching' had been.
My second grand-daughter came with a girl friend to stay with us for a week immediately after GCSE (she passed French grade C) and spent the evenings with local kids in town. She reckoned that she learned more French in those 7 days than in the several years up to GCSE. What a condemnation of modern language tuition in Yorkshire. She is now working for Walt outside Paris and loving it!!!!!!!!

I learned to speak three languages that way because there were no English speakers around** and even wrote a Uni thesis in one of those.

**That is not quite true; in two of those places there were fluent English speakers who always used their own languages around me.
“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love ...”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 167AD

michael scuffil
Button Grecian
Posts: 1377
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 12:53 pm
Real Name: michael scuffil
Location: germany

Re: Michael Cherniavsky

Post by michael scuffil » Sat Apr 22, 2017 3:37 pm

Oliver wrote:
Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:17 pm
In the Times Literary Supplement of 24 Feb 2017 there is a book review containing a prominent photo of a young Michael Cherniavsky, with another medieval historian. However don’t rush to read it to learn more about the Chern, for the review is of

Ernest Kantorowicz: a Life, (by Robert E Lerner and published by Princeton Univ Press).

The Chern is not even mentioned in the review’s text. If someone reads the book, please let us all know if it says anything interesting about him?
Much of this book is searchable on Google Books. There are numerous references to a Michael Cherniavsky, but also references to 'his wife Lucy'. I had never heard that our Chern had ever been married, so I fear this is a different MC. Or is there something we don't know? (The picture is on p. 301).
Th.B. 27 1955-63

Oliver
3rd Former
Posts: 29
Joined: Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:59 am
Real Name: Oliver Underwood

Re: Michael Cherniavsky

Post by Oliver » Sat Apr 22, 2017 4:28 pm

Although I haven’t read the Kantorowicz book, nor even the extracts on the internet, I am sure the photo is of our MTC. Also Cherniavsky is a very unusual name and I have never come across it (apart from MTC, his father and his brother, a few years younger who was also at Oxford). The MTC of the review was a medieval historian. So for all these reasons I strongly suspect the MTC mentioned in the review was our MTC, in spite of the mention of a wife Lucy. I too had never heard of her, nor knew of any marriage. Therefore the total probability seems that MTC was perhaps previously married and widowed or divorced, before coming to CH and/or the biographer made a mistake. Someone who possibly can tell us more is Professor David Taplin, OB, who apparently knew MTC well during his post-CH years at the University of Waterloo.

rockfreak
Deputy Grecian
Posts: 368
Joined: Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:31 pm
Real Name: David Redshaw
Location: Gravesend, Kent

Re: Michael Cherniavsky

Post by rockfreak » Sat Apr 22, 2017 10:59 pm

Someone (possibly Geoffrey Cannon) has mentioned elsewhere that Chern had a lisp, although a soft one. Of course this didn't stop boys impersonating it. I did nineteenth century history under Chern and to this day, whenever I hear talk about electoral reform, I think of rotten boroughs and "Old Tharum". Also an apocryphal story emerged from Barnes B that there had been an outbreak of boys discussing the relative merits of their genitals - a not unusual occurrence in a boys' boarding school. Chern got to hear of it and called the main protagonists into his study where he asked in his mild way why there was all this talk of toolth and ballth.

michael scuffil
Button Grecian
Posts: 1377
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 12:53 pm
Real Name: michael scuffil
Location: germany

Re: Michael Cherniavsky

Post by michael scuffil » Sun Apr 23, 2017 10:33 am

Oliver wrote:
Sat Apr 22, 2017 4:28 pm
Although I haven’t read the Kantorowicz book, nor even the extracts on the internet, I am sure the photo is of our MTC. Also Cherniavsky is a very unusual name and I have never come across it (apart from MTC, his father and his brother, a few years younger who was also at Oxford). The MTC of the review was a medieval historian. So for all these reasons I strongly suspect the MTC mentioned in the review was our MTC, in spite of the mention of a wife Lucy. I too had never heard of her, nor knew of any marriage. Therefore the total probability seems that MTC was perhaps previously married and widowed or divorced, before coming to CH and/or the biographer made a mistake. Someone who possibly can tell us more is Professor David Taplin, OB, who apparently knew MTC well during his post-CH years at the University of Waterloo.
Sorry, but the biographer makes it clear that the MC he refers to (and whose wife he frequently interviewed) is the MC whose papers are deposited at the Pittsburgh University Library (a source for his book). The Library's potted biography of this MC says:
"Dr. Michael Cherniavsky was born in Harbin, China, of Russian born parents and raised in Manchuria. He was educated at the University of California where he received a B.A. in 1946, an M.A. in 1947, and a Ph.D. in history in 1951. He became an instructor in history at Wesleyan in 1952 after having been a research assistant at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton; he joined the faculty of the University of Rochester as Associate Professor in 1964. In 1972, he was appointed Andrew W. Mellon Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh. His field was Russian medieval history with a specialty in 15th and 16th century Russian political theory. Dr. Cherniavsky died in Pittsburgh in 1973." None of this applies to Chern.
Th.B. 27 1955-63

RobinKinloch
2nd Former
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun May 21, 2017 8:15 pm
Real Name: Robin Kinloch

Re: Michael Cherniavsky

Post by RobinKinloch » Sun May 21, 2017 9:25 pm

Very belatedly, I want to add applause for Geoff Cannon's appreciation of Michael Cherniavsky. His medieval history classes were brilliant, and his coaching in essay writing provided skills of lifelong value. And I can now treasure the thought that, unknown to the other, we were both at Trafalgar Square demonstrating against the invasion of Suez.
To add a footnote, the League of Empire Loyalist came to CH at some point in 1955-56 to participate in a Debating Society event which would have been chaired by MC. The LEL spokeswoman's thesis was defeated, I think.

Oliver
3rd Former
Posts: 29
Joined: Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:59 am
Real Name: Oliver Underwood

Re: Michael Cherniavsky

Post by Oliver » Tue May 23, 2017 6:34 am

Thanks Michael, for your diligent research and informing us of its results. I was wrong and clearly the Michael Cherniavsky of the book review (named simply Michael Cherniavsky and not Michael Theodore Cherniavsky) was not ours. They do look alike and have similar glasses. Perhaps they are related.

(One of MTC’s biographies at

https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.c ... d=46673763

makes this plain. But there is some glitch in this Forum's sotftware. It will not copy the full address. So the 3 dots should be replaced by

cgi?page=gr&GRi )

Phil
2nd Former
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2015 11:04 am
Real Name: Philip Thorne

Re: Michael Cherniavsky

Post by Phil » Tue May 23, 2017 11:28 am

I note that Fitzsadou wrote on 1 November 2012,
Fitzsadou wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2012 5:24 pm
MTC ended his teaching career in the History Dept of the University of Western Ontario, Canada. There can be very, very few CH schoolteachers who could move effortlessly from CH to a University post. (One other who springs to mind was HLO Flecker’s predecessor, WH Fyfe, who also went to a Canadian University.)
That is true of course, but WH Fyfe was a university teacher at Oxford for 16 years before serving in the First World War as a Staff Officer and then becoming headmaster at CH. So it was not surprising that after CH he joined a university (admittedly as principal). MTC in contrast had never taught at a university before CH, so his transition from being a school master to become an associate professor at a university is more remarkable and probably unique.
Last edited by Phil on Thu May 25, 2017 4:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

Katharine
Button Grecian
Posts: 2937
Joined: Mon Dec 26, 2005 10:44 pm
Real Name: Katharine Dobson
Location: Gwynedd

Re: Michael Cherniavsky

Post by Katharine » Wed May 24, 2017 9:33 pm

Oliver wrote:
Tue May 23, 2017 6:34 am
Thanks Michael, for your diligent research and informing us of its results. I was wrong and clearly the Michael Cherniavsky of the book review (named simply Michael Cherniavsky and not Michael Theodore Cherniavsky) was not ours. They do look alike and have similar glasses. Perhaps they are related.

(One of MTC’s biographies at

https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.c ... d=46673763

makes this plain. But there is some glitch in this Forum's sotftware. It will not copy the full address. So the 3 dots should be replaced by

cgi?page=gr&GRi )
Nothing wrong with the software, Oliver, when I clicked on your link I'm sure it took me to the right place. It's just the way the software works, shortening very long links.
Katharine Dobson (Hills) 6.14, 1959 - 1965
Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia!

User avatar
LongGone
Deputy Grecian
Posts: 285
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2008 4:17 pm
Real Name: Mike Adams
Location: New England

Re: Michael Cherniavsky

Post by LongGone » Wed May 24, 2017 11:14 pm

Phil wrote:
Tue May 23, 2017 11:28 am
I note that Fitzsadou wrote on 1 November 2012,
Fitzsadou wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2012 5:24 pm
MTC ended his teaching career in the History Dept of the University of Western Ontario, Canada. There can be very, very few CH schoolteachers who could move effortlessly from CH to a University post. (One other who springs to mind was HLO Flecker’s predecessor, WH Fyfe, who also went to a Canadian University.)
That is true of course, but WH Fyfe was a university teacher at Oxford for 16 years before serving in the First World War as a Staff Officer and then becoming headmaster at CH. So it was not surprising that after CH he joined a university (admittedly as principal). MTC in contrast had never taught at a university before CH, so his transition from being a school to become an associate professor at a university is more remarkable and probably unique.
It would certainly be unusual if he had no graduate degree. I suppose hiring criteria may have been different back then, but it would normally need an international reputation in ones field to bypass the requirements.
If a stone falls on an egg: alas for the egg
If an egg falls on a stone: alas for the egg

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests