Today I found out that one of my secondary school teachers has died. Ironically he was one of my Biology teachers, a subject I left at GSCE level. Little did I know that 15 years later I'd end up working in biology research. It got me thinking about how much the teachers and the way that subjects were taught has influenced my life and career.
I've been taught by so many teachers, lecturers, tutors and demonstrators over the last thirty-odd years that I've probably forgotten most of them but I will just note a few that particularly influenced me.
During my GCSEs I enjoyed history so much that despite applying for Computer Science courses at for undergraduate I chose History (along with Maths and Physics as my sixth form college didn't offer computing) at A-Level. I did this simply because of the teachers who made the subject fascinating. I still have the printout of Louis XIV that one of the teachers printed for me on an early colour bubblejet printer because he was my favourite French monarch.
University had some fantastic lecturers and tutors, such as the lecturer (who later was one of my PhD examiners) that taught the History of Computing module which we used to call story time, or the lecturer that taught logic who would terrorise any latecomers with answers to truth tables as they'd try to sneak in unseen. It was here that I did my dissertation with my future PhD supervisor. He suggested a particular masters degree, helped me apply for a scholarship and later I went to work with him in Wales for my PhD.
My time in London when working towards my masters degree I met some amazing lecturers and tutors. Some were inspirational but not so much practical like the climate scientist who stormed into the lecturer room, windswept and interesting, with boxes of printed overhead projector slides for all of us....an inch thick each, not printed in order. The first satellite he was principle investigator on blew up on the launchpad a few years earlier but he had raised more funds to build another one which is still now in orbit and has been operating for 7 years.
I certainly would not be doing what I am now without the people who have taught me and I have always enjoyed teaching. I've taught several small courses during my time in Aberystwyth and even did a PGCTHE qualification. It's a shame that teaching at all levels isn't re-guarded as highly as it should. Teachers are underpaid and over worked, lecturers often have high teaching loads and are expected to compete on research and funding, not to mention those in higher education who teach in poor conditions while completing their own studies like my friend Sam who has lost the will;
Anyway, it's Friday evening and I will drink a toast to those who have taught me, cheers.