Keystone Magazine - Page 15

Malcolm McKenzie speaking at one of Keystone’s education salons Q: Who has had the most influence on you in your career as an educator? A: I can tell you about a few teachers who had a powerful impact on me. One was this Chaplain. He was a very wide thinker and introduced me to all kinds of writers and ways of doing things which I would not have been exposed to otherwise. The teacher who inspired me to study English literature in university is a very remarkable man, who did actually bring experiential learning into the classroom by teaching in a very dramatic way. He would act out things for us. He would jump onto the table in front of the class and pretend to be characters. He was wonderful. I would not have studied literature at university had it not been for him. I am sure of that. I can remember other teachers. I was taught English Literature at the University of Cape Town by John Coetzee, who was just starting out his own writing career then in the early 1970s. He has since become a Nobel Prize winner in Literature, one of two South Africans to achieve that award. He was a remarkable man: a shy man, very eccentric and very bright. I was taught philosophy at the University of Cape Town by a Belgian man who had been the mayor of a town in Belgium which was overrun by the Nazis in the Second World War. He had all kinds of unusual and unbelievable life experiences to bring to bear on the way that he saw philosophy. Those are some that stand out for me. I had some great tutors at Oxford, including a man who taught me Medieval English Literature, who was English but had taken up the cause of Welsh nationalism, which was not very fashionable in the late 1970s. It has become much more fashionable since then. But he had taught himself to speak Welsh and on the weekends he used to go up and down the country addressing Welsh nationalist gatherings. I think that the people who stand out for me as teachers, who have influenced me, have been eccentric in one way or another. They have been unusual. But they have not necessarily been charismatic. And I do not think that great teachers have to be charismatic. I have had great teachers who are very quiet in the classroom and just get students talking and thinking. But they have to have some special quality. 13