‘now back to the books, which are less important’

I was reading an article in the Liffey Champion last night about Michael Hanly, who is working for Concern and spent quite a few years in Zimbabwe teaching in a rural school and working with the local development authority.
Part of the piece reads:

As past pupil of Belvedere College it was there that he admits that he was made aware of important social issues.
“Our science teacher, Mr Grehan, was an inspirational teacher and is partly responsible for my working in this area,” said Mr Hanly.
“I remember how any time we would have someone in to give us a talk, at the end of it he would say, ‘now back to the books, which are less important’. That phrase of his has stuck with me.”

What a wonderful compliment to pay any teacher; that they instilled in the student the notion that there were more important issues out there than could be found in their text-books.
I don’t know Michael Grehan personally, but we have overlapped in various forums, and he appears to be an immensely likeable gentleman.
I’d like to think that I could bring a little of his philosophy into my own teaching.

Belvedere College itself seems to be very big on social issues.
As wikipedia says:

The Jesuit ethos of social justice for all and educating “men for others” are keystones of the Belvedere College culture and education philosophy.

Many of their students spend a couple of nights sleeping on the streets around Christmas, to highlight the homeless problem, and raise funds for them.

It also has a very strong science tradition, as do all schools run by Jesuits. Their applied maths teacher is Oliver Murphy, author of Fundamental Applied Maths. He makes various notes available to both his students and other teachers, and instead of taking money simply asks that we make a small donation in the form of a cheque to a local charity.
It would be nice to think that some day all schools will have a ‘social justice for all’ ethos, but I won’t hold my breath.

Oliver Murphy’s Applied Maths site
Belvedere College  

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