This week a very intriguing character with lots of stories to tell and captivating knowledge to share spent time giving us some insight into his life before, during and also outside of school. One of the most well known faces in school; the one and only Father Adam:
- Why and how did you become a teacher?
I believe that whatever we do in life starts with a little bit of ‘hero worship’. I had this amazing chaplain at my old school; he was far cleverer than I am and was an all-rounder. He had been in the army and had done lots of things. I just loved the way he raised the difficult questions of life; the sort of questions that most of us run away from. He had this courage to face them head-on with a real urgency. He made Theology an addictive pursuit. Thank you, Fr David Jones!
- Could you tell us a bit about your university life?
It was Keble College in Oxford. I obviously loved the parties; I loved the balls; I loved the people, really. The truth is I never lost the disbelief that I’d got a place there. In my first year, I was a little bit in awe of the people around me and the surroundings but my most abiding memory was a sad one. One of our tutors in the Theology Faculty took his own life. He’d always lived in this rare Oxbridge world and he wrote an article which he thought would remain anonymous. It was very critical of the Archbishop of Canterbury of the time. The Press got hold of it- the Church reacted badly to it- and Fr Gary Bennett couldn’t cope. I can remember hearing the news. The cold winds of the outside world had blown through the cloisters and with them a lesson- that the words we put in type can have unforeseen consequences.
- What were the things that impacted you as a student?
I once heard someone say recently that it was much later in their time at university that they actually began to learn how to think. The biggest thing that happened to me at university was that I began to think for myself. I also had my one and only brush with TV fame. People still come up to me and ask “Were you the person who wheeled his bicycle behind Inspector Morse in the 4th series of that BBC detective series filmed in Oxford?” and I proudly tell them “Yes!”
- What was your former school like?
Very similar to Charterhouse. It was Repton School in Derbyshire and is probably most famous perhaps for one of its old boys, Jeremy Clarkson, who presented “Top Gear”. It is a school set in a beautiful quiet country village which made the transition to the fast London pace of Surrey a bit of a challenging one! It’s always fun when Repton come to play Charterhouse at Football. I enjoy reminding my Repton friends of the apocalypse we brought the Repton First Team this Quarter! Just shows our prayers are quicker working than theirs!
- Could you describe one of your most challenging students?
I think there are two main ways that a student can offer a teacher a challenge. You can have the student who is very academically gifted and with that comes a restlessness. You have to keep up with his/her insatiable reading habits! Then there is the challenge of how to help the student that has a learning difficulty or a profound problem that he or she is coming to terms with. There was a lovely former pupil called Nick who thought he was “Yogi Bear” and people would treat it as a joke. Then it became quite clear that Nick was a latchkey child. With a little younger brother they would leave an empty house in the morning and return to one in the evening. His parents worked every hour. He would have his front door key around his neck and he would open the door and there would be nobody home. His only friends were the “Yogi Bear” videos. On the surface, it looked like he was being silly but then you realised there’s a real problem and school is the only place in his life that knows it.
- What do you think are other challenges that teachers face today?
I think the world of public schools is a very competitive world and I think that the biggest challenge that we, as teachers in boarding schools, face is really the challenge of seeing ‘the wood for the trees’ and not losing the sense of us being a family and a community. The need to market the school and survive as a business brings about the challenge of also never forgetting that it is the people that make a place, not the profit.
- What do you like to do in your free time when you aren’t teaching?
My wife is the massive country lover and the thrill that she gets from being in the countryside and seeing all the trees, birds and flowers, I get from watching “The Politics Show” on television! I love Politics. I am fascinated by what motivates people. Sometimes it’s quite captivating to see what motivates people who crave political power and I love the stories of intrigue there…but I’m also glad I’m not in that world! I don’t think I’d last long!
Thank you Father Adam!