School: American International School in Abu Dhabi (AISA)
Job Title: Director
Where did you go to school?
I went to an all-boys, boarding school which had been founded in 1552, and we wore the same uniform that they had 400 years earlier – a bit embarrassing when you were out in public! It is called Christ’s Hospital, which is strange because it is neither religious nor a hospital. It had been founded as an orphanage and admission was restricted to families on low-incomes. This meant that no one could pretend to be a snob, which was nice.
What was your favourite subject?
Biology. I had always been interested in wildlife and I was excited by a subject which explained the underlying mystery. It was also a subject which allowed us to get out of the classroom and study nature up close. In fact, I was so interested in biology that I studied it at university and went on to become a biology teacher.
What was your least favourite?
Physics because it was badly taught. I couldn’t understand it and couldn’t see any logic in it. Later, through my own reading, I came to understand the importance of it. Now, I do enjoy reading and watching documentaries about physics.
Did you have a favourite teacher?
My biology teacher, Mr. Brotherton. He was young, had graduated from Cambridge, and rode his bicycle around the school campus. He seemed pretty cool and I thought I could do the same. In the end I graduated from London university, but I taught biology and ride a bicycle. However, I don’t think that any of that has made me cool!
Were you good or naughty?
Generally pretty good, but it was impossible not to get into trouble in that sort of environment.
What was the naughtiest thing you did at school?
In 1967, the ‘Summer of Love’, I took the train to London and went to a ‘Love-In’ in Hyde Park. Full of hippies dancing in the sunshine. I can’t remember which bands played, but the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg was there – I didn’t realise until later how important he was. I only stayed for a couple of hours but I managed to get back to school without being caught.
What’s your happiest memory from your school days?
The school was in the Sussex countryside (in the south of England), so I enjoyed being out in the countryside in the summer. There was a river close to the school and we would fish, swim and build rafts. Children were much less supervised in those days. We got up to all sorts of adventures without our parents knowing.
What about your worst one?
Being caned for minor offences, such a breaking a plate in the dining hall. In those days, it was accepted in all schools in the UK that canings and beatings were a part of everyday school life. It is great that developed countries, including the UAE, have banned corporal punishment.