A Bilingual Environment Creates Students Who Are More Tolerant

An interview with Graeme Morley, Head of Key Stage 3 and Teacher of Science.

Graeme Morley joined the British School of Bucharest in 2019 as a Secondary Science Teacher and is Head of Key Stage 3. Graeme attended King’s College, University of London, where he obtained a BSc(Hons) in Microbiology and has also completed his PGCE, and a Master’s in Education, focusing on bilingualism. Graeme started his teaching career 21 years ago and has taught in the UK and Kazakhstan. Graeme is a sports fan and holds a 1st Dan black belt in Ki-Aikido.

I worked for many years in other fields but never found them rewarding. I have a lot of family members, and conversations regularly came around to: “You should become a teacher. I can see you doing that as a career”. After a while, I decided to make the jump and apply to do my teacher training. I went to Jordanhill (Glasgow) and have not regretted my decision for a second.

What made you want to join BSB?

In all honesty, it was a personal recommendation from Clare Sugdon, who worked here and who I had worked with, in Kazakhstan. I told her that I wanted to move to a country bordering the Black Sea and she highly recommended BSB and Bucharest. I enjoy the Eastern European attitude and way of life, it feels very comfortable.

In how many countries have you lived?

I have lived (been registered as a resident) in five, but I’ve spent substantial time (months or more) in at least as many, as well as having visited more countries than I can remember. I love travelling and seeing new places.

Which school, where you have taught, was most different to BSB? From a cultural and sociological point of view.

I taught in a fully IB school. I hugely enjoy the IB diploma, it is an amazing qualification, but the MYP is a different thing entirely; it can be variable in quality, as it has no clear curriculum or exam. I felt that it did not suit my teaching style at all and that I was not giving the students there the education they needed.

How does having a BSc(Hons) in Microbiology help you in your day to day life?

I went to an excellent university that taught the subject, but also taught around it and enriched it. I was introduced to comparative philosophy as part of my degree, and being able to think independently and analyse arguments is a very valuable skill. The degree was also very wide-ranging, I did major courses in Biochemistry and Biophysics, alongside the Microbiology. This led me into organic chemistry research, working in the Nuclear Fuels industry on pollution control. Another major, Virology, is useful given the current situation in Europe and the wider world. I would recommend generalising in the way I did, as it keeps so many doors open for your future careers.

How do you think/believe a child’s development is helped by living in a bilingual environment?

It makes them into much more tolerant, open-minded and international individuals. I moved to South Africa when I was 11. The area I moved to had a huge majority of non-English speakers, and I had to learn to adapt and to become much more accepting of differences. It taught me, and it will teach today’s students, that people have many more similarities than differences.

What inspires you to be creative?

Food – my creative outlet is cookery. I love it, I love experimenting and creating.

If you weren’t a full-time teacher, what would your dream job be?

Teaching is my dream job. I have done enough outside the teaching sector to know that. If I had not become a teacher, I envisage that I might have gone into the family tradition of farming.

What are you enjoying most about Bucharest so far?

It is a hugely relaxing city for me. I enjoy the parks, the café culture, the boulevards, the old architecture. It feels good.

And finally: tell us something unexpected about yourself.

I played Rugby for over 30 years. I learned it in South Africa, and I have played it on four of the six continents it is played on. It hasn’t damaged me (much), but I’m retired now and will never play in North or South America.

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