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John Haldane was schooled in Scotland at Hamilton Park School, John Ogilvie Hall, and St Aloysius College, Glasgow, the last two being Jesuit schools. (For a life of St Aloysius (1568-91) see C.C. Martindale, The Vocation of Aloysius Gonzaga (London: Sheed and Ward, 1945) and for a history of the school see John V. McCabe, The History of St Aloysius College 1859-1999 (2000)).

He received his higher education first in the Visual Arts, initially at Medway College of Design (University of the Creative Arts, Rochester). Thereafter he attended Wimbledon School of Art (University of the Arts London) (BA, Fine Art). His teachers there included Roger Ackling, Prunella Clough, Michael Ginsborg and David Haste, and he was a fellow student with Tony Cragg (subsequently winner of the Turner Prize and the Praemium Imperiale). For an account of the first hundred years of the college see Wimbledon School of Art: 1890-1990 (London: Penderel Press, 1990)

Subsequently he studied and trained for art education at the University of London Institute of Education (PGCE) where his teachers included R.S. Peters, R.F. Dearden and Stanislaw Frenkiel.

The next phase of his higher education involved a turn to philosophy which he studied at University of London, Birkbeck College, (BA Philosophy, and PhD) where his teachers included David Hamlyn, Dorothy Edgington, Ian McFetridge, Mark Platts and Roger Scruton. For an account of the foundation and first century of Birkbeck see C. Delisle Burns, A Short History of Birkbeck College (London: University of London Press, 1924).