I’ve always enjoyed introducing others to the wonders of History. My own four children visited many monuments and museums while still in their pushchairs. While they learnt the value of a strategic nap, they also developed their own interest to the extent that the youngest is even studying History herself at university.
My own interest in History was awakened by living in places where the layers of the past were evident. I grew up in a village near Oxford, where there was a Viking battlefield, and the remains of an 11th century priory. Outside my Primary school was an ancient tree still known as ‘Rupert’s Oak’, dating from the Civil War. As a teenager I was intrigued to visit local sites, especially those connected with notorious characters, from highwaymen and the Hellfire Club to John Profumo. So I went on to take my degree in History at Nottingham University, and then spent three years researching the social history of London in the 19th century.
Since then, I’ve lived in several towns and cities, and in each case I have enjoyed investigating and understanding their past, and how this local history relates to wider historical themes. Meanwhile, I have taught in a variety of schools and colleges, specialising in 19th and 20th century history.
I’ve also worked to support students in developing their essay writing skills, and marked GCSE and A level exam papers. During this time I’ve seen what rapid progress you can make if you’re committed to learning. I’ve helped my own children, and many other students, acquire the combination of knowledge, skills and organisation that they need to succeed at top universities.
Another great interest is languages. I have taught English in Spain and Spanish in England. My mother’s family is Swedish. We’ve travelled extensively and hosted student teachers from many countries, and always found it fascinating to discover more about life and education in other cultures.
All this has shown me how understanding the past not only enriches our lives but also develops valuable skills of interpretation and debate. As the Roman statesman Cicero wrote, more than two thousand years ago, ‘To be ignorant of the past is to remain forever a child’.