Tuesday 1 May 2018

My Teacher, Tony

My teacher, Tony Ward, has died. I think it’s fair to say he changed my life. I was always a curious child (yes), but Tony’s A Level Politics lessons opened my eyes to worlds of thought that were totally unknown to me. He taught me about human nature, and the idea that you could argue about what exactly it was. He taught me that it was possible to imagine the world operating in a completely different way to the way it does. In all of this, he expounded these world views (all of them) with the conviction of a believer. What would it be like to have an anarchist in the room? Or a socialist? Or even a fascist? Tony made these things living ideas, and opened us to the exciting and troubling possibilities that followed from this.

Tony was one of those teachers who didn’t condescend to his pupils. He spoke to us as though we were on his level. He had left school at 16 with no qualifications, but had pursued education thereafter with a special appetite. He took my interest in music seriously and would listen to my latest enthusiasms with interest. He understood that the spark of curiosity and interest in young people is where all the really valuable thinking comes from, and for that I will forever be grateful.

I am a teacher now, but he didn’t know that. Like many of us, I thought of him fondly but never quite got around to dropping him a line and telling him that. His partner, Chris, was my History teacher, and an obituary has been posted on the Guardian website by Tim, my English teacher. It reminds me that we should get on and thank our teachers for what they probably don’t know they did.

The header picture is from the Guardian obit, and he's looking as much like Lenin as I remember. I do not own the copyright for this picture and it will be removed at the request of the copyright holder/s.