Best of both worlds: Estelle’s journey in a pioneering role - June 20

Author: Estelle Ashman, Curriculum Content Developer

Thank you!

June 2020

Did you know that 20 May was Thank a Teacher Day? No? Neither did I until I heard ex-England footballer, Ian Wright, talk passionately about Mr Pigden on Radio 4. His impassioned interview got me thinking, who would I want to thank from my own education?

When I think about my favourite teachers, Mr Douglas immediately springs to mind. Imagine the traditional, tweed wearing, bespectacled teacher and you have Mr Douglas to a tee. History lessons were always the highlight of my week simply because he was a brilliant storyteller, in fact you could guarantee avoiding doing any written work if you got Mr D off onto one of his amazing monologues. I can vividly remember lessons about Victorian crime and punishment complete with hanging demonstrations and detailed descriptions of how Britain discarded much of the technological revolutions gained from Roman rule. Recently, when there were calls to include details of the British involvement in the slave trade, I realised we WERE taught about this. I can recall lessons where we were shown diagrams of the slaver’s boats and Mr Douglas told us stories of the terrible, degrading conditions that the people were transported in. So firstly, I would like to thank you Mr Douglas, you taught me that stories are important and this has influenced my own teaching as I ensure every lesson, workshop and tutorial has a context that is relevant to my students.

The second teacher that I would like to thank is Mr Westwood. Mr Westwood was one of my Science teachers and much like Mr D, was passionate about his subject. The way this passion was demonstrated was through carefully constructed innovative teaching activities.  One such activity involved attempting to eat sugared doughnuts suspended by string from the ceiling without using our hands. The lesson? Automatic response in humans – we learned that we would automatically lick the sugar off our lips. Thank you, Mr Westwood, I believe that it was your ingenious ideas for teaching activities that helped to shape my own belief that teaching outside of the box helps to bring difficult topics to life.

The third teacher, who I will not name, taught me about the kind of teacher I did not want to be. This teacher taught IT (as Computing did not exist as a subject in my school at the time), they did not interact with us as pupils and my only memories of them is that they wore a straw hat, sat in the corner of the room and left us to our own devices. There was nothing about this teacher that said they had any interest in their subject and therefore I had no interest either. This teacher also had a rather unfortunate name which I suspect many people would consider not using in an educational setting. Thank you, Sir, you taught me what is perhaps the most important lesson, how important the relationship between loving your subject and wanting to share that with your students is.

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