James Currie was rector of the College from 1852 to 1886, succeeding George Davidson.
James Currie was born in Edinburgh in 1827 and educated at Heriot’s Hospital, the High School and at Edinburgh University. Whist still at university he became one of the teaching staff at Heriot’s Hospital and later at the Church of Scotland’s Normal School in Edinburgh. He was Mathematics Tutor for six years at the School. This was formed in 1843 following the Disruption of the Church that year. The Church opened a new teaching facility in 1845 at Johnston Terrace, Edinburgh. On George Davidson’s resignation in 1852 James Currie became the College’s Rector at the age of 25.
During his rectorship the Normal School/Training College expanded with a new building opening in Chambers Street in 1879. This housed the increasing number of male students who were jointly taught at the College and at Edinburgh University. Following the move of the male students to Chambers Street the accommodation released in Johnston Terrace was developed into a Practising School. During his time at the College nearly three thousand students passed through the institution.
James Currie was an active teacher and prolific author. He wrote seven textbooks for his College students, including: ‘The Principles and Practice of Common School Education, ‘Practical School Arithmetic’, and ‘Elements of Musical Analysis’. His interest in early education is reflected in his book: ‘The Principles and Practice of Early Infant School Education’ published in London in 1857.
In recognition of his educational work Edinburgh University conferred on him the degree of LLD in 1880.
Dr Currie died whilst still Rector on 26 September 1886 aged 59.
Like his colleague Maurice Paterson, Rector at Moray House, James Currie was highly regarded by his staff and students. In 1860 the ‘Currie Club’ was established and this continued to meet until 1899. Former students helped raise funds that enabled an annual Book Prize to be awarded: the Currie Prize. Today Moray House continues to award the Currie medal to the outstanding student of the year.
This article was published on Feb 24, 2011