As adults I think we can all look back and name favourite teachers from our school days.
For me it’s Mrs Miller, Miss Rose, Mr Page and Mrs Page (his wife also one of my teachers, although some prefered Mrs Lamb – who never did it for me) and Mr Brooks. But I think the one that had most influence was from when I was doing my A Levels and that was Mr Ward.
Mr Ward was my computer science tutor. I’m not sure how old he was, he had white hair and a bushy white beard. So I had no clues there. Let’s say that he was over 50 to be on the safe side. Mr Ward drove a vauxhaul cavilier (mid eighties model) which he drove to and from work each day (remember that car it’s important later). He also had a habit of taking snuff. Which oddly seems out of fashion these days.
The A level class I was in was a massive three students in size, and I was top dog in that group (although there was a more talented programmer in the following year behind me – Paul). If you haven’t been top dog in a class then you don’t know what you are missing. It’s a great experience.
Mr Ward treated us with respect and encouraged us to improve. He taught us not just the fundamentals of computing and programming, but also passed on his experience of the computer industry. Mr Ward had been involved in it in the early days. The early days when computers filled buildings, when there was punched tape and hard drives were massive expensive devices holding several kilobytes of data.
When it came to doing the actually A level exams, Mr Ward said if I didn’t pass the A level he would run me over next time he saw me crossing the road. It was hard to tell if he was joking or not. But I only got a pass grade in one A level, can you guess which one it was? Yep Computer Science, I think the threat to my life somehow sharpened my focus. That or it was a subject I really enjoyed and liked.
Looking back I think those A Level classes were some of the best days of my life.
But even after leaving collage and going off to Polytechnic to do an HND in Computer Studies, I still returned back to visit Mr Ward (as did Paul), on several occasions.
Now twenty four years later his memory is still with me, and more so these days than ever. Because now I too will be following in his footsteps, and changing career to become a lecturer teaching what we call ICT these days, but back in the day we would of called it computing.
I can only aspire to be as good a teacher as Mr Ward was. But I will carry on the tradition that he started twenty four years ago.
I don’t know what became of Mr Ward, but if he is up there in the great data processing centre in the sky (thnx for that Paul) that he is looking down, and sees that his legacy is carrying on, just before getting his snuff box out, taking a good pinch between finger and thumb, putting it on the back of his hand, and then sniffing it up.