Life before Teesside High School
I fell in love with the North East when I came up to Durham University to read English and Latin. It seemed like a place where the past was still within reach; the Anglo-Saxon and the industrial co-existing in a grimly romantic landscape. As a postgraduate, studying Milton’s Latin poetry, I was happily bohemian, renting rooms in a dilapidated castle with no hot water or any heat beyond the fireplace, but I gradually slid into the more usual way of life of the educated middle class: tutoring; teaching classes in creative writing as well as Classics and English; writing articles, poetry and a novel, bringing up four children, and eventually teaching at Durham High School.
What do you enjoy most about your subject?
One of the best things about Classics is that Latin and Greek and Classical Civilisation are not National Curriculum subjects, so they slip under the radar. I really enjoy having the intellectual freedom to teach creatively. You can tell when something’s working with a class, and in a school like this you can react, change activities, alter lesson plans and schemes of work. In a small class, the quirky individual can flourish and be encouraged.
What is your favourite lesson?
I absolutely love words; language has an intoxicating glamour for me, so that the lessons I most enjoy teaching are actually grammar classes, and whenever there is a chance to trace a word from its Indo-European roots through several languages, or to consider the finer nuances of an A-level translation. I also get very fired up when children are intellectually rebellious, or when they provoke me to think harder about my own cultural assumptions.
What do others say about you?
The last time I had a job interview, I gathered that it was now frequent practice to ask candidates, as a final question, what piece of furniture others would say best represented them. I had decided to say that I was an efficient yet magical wardrobe. When the question wasn’t asked, I felt frustrated, so I suppose this is my chance! So yes, I hope that other people consider me to be capable and kind, but also inspiring and enthusiastic.