By Jemima Longcake, Year 12, Kirkbie Kendal School, Cumbria
They may not wear the pristine white lab coat, or work in the esteemed laboratories of CERN or Fermilab. They do not lecture thousands in auditoriums, but they they lecture hundreds in our school lab rooms and classrooms. They are, for many of us, our first experience of being immersed in science; our first experience of really seeing science.
Day to day, every day, our physics, biology, chemistry, technology and arithmetic teachers inspire our new generation of scientists. They show us a new side of fact – a comforting thought for many in the instability of every day. Our teachers and lecturers, though humble, hold the guiding torch for future doctors to engineers, and, as long as students are learning, that flame will not go out.
Take my physics tutor: he took a girl who had become disinterested in the idea of waves and particle model of matter, and made her passionate about the force required to balance a pivot, simply through passionate teaching. My newly ignited flame for physics is one that I plan to fuel and kindle for years to come, along with my interest for chemistry, biology and so on. This spectrum of interests, must certainly be a product of the support and passion of my teachers which I am so thankful for. It goes without saying that teachers do not always come out on top in the grand scheme of things. They deal with cuts to funding, pressure, unruly classes, stigma- this is not an exhaustive list. The pressure to maintain the happiness, welfare and interest of their classes, as well as working with their often limited resources takes its toll, and teachers, despite being some of the biggest inspirations in our lives, do not always get the gratitude that they so deserve.
Of course, teachers everywhere, in every subject inspire young people, every day. When we are young, it is those around us which we are most inspired by, and along with parents and caregivers, our tutors, inspire us most.
I am certain that it is very pleasant to be in the biggest research bases across the globe, but the fact that we still have so many young and passionate scientists is due to the intense support closer to home, from our tutors and lecturers. My chemistry teacher, in her outnumbered position as a female chemist, inspired so many young girls, who may not have been so inspired to take up science, if it were not for her.
The conclusive point that I am steadily heading towards, is that although they are not as famous as the greats like Stephen Hawking or Marie Curie who made such inspirational discoveries, or Professor Brian Cox or Alice Roberts who really helped to bring science into the public media, our tutors, have the single most important job imaginable. They inspire and help to care for the young minds of our society, overcoming what may seem to them as the greatest hurdles, and celebrating what seem like the greatest triumphs.
It may seem simple to those of us who are now mature scientists, but to young people in schools everywhere, who are just learning the building blocks of science, their minds are being broadened and opened up to what seem like, and indeed at that age are, great discoveries. They are just discovering the wave spectrum, and understanding the different organelles that make up cells. They are discovering what happens when you combine an acid and an alkali, and learning how to test for starch. They are realising that science is not just pipettes and test tubes, but amazing ideas with solid practical experiments to cement them.
So, it may be easy to dismiss the tutor – whether they teach you Bach or biology, but first please consider where you would be without that one passionate teacher who ignited a love for your subject. Consider exactly how hard it must be to strive daily to inspire, even if it doesn’t always work. Consider how they work, for that precious sixty minutes a day, to encourage, support, kindly correct and most of all inspire.
So, as I reach the climax of my statement, allow me to say, “teachers, we all salute you”.