“I would say that many things haven’t changed around Sacred Heart. It remains a very friendly community, a good community to be a part of. Students remain almost always a delight to teach.
Some things that have changed. There used to be a slightly different mix of cultural backgrounds of students compared to when I started many years ago. We had more Europeans, less mainland Chinese, and perhaps fewer Koreans. Students have become more studious. When I first came here I remember having to talk to more students about not doing their homework or not putting effort into their work. I think students now work harder and are better behaved. Also, there were more naughty students that I seem to remember back then. Another thing is that there are more students who have issues with anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems than when I was first here. There are also more extracurricular activities available to students. There always used to be a lot but there are a number of activities that are new on my time scale – things like debate, soccer, and other clubs. The average age of teachers has increased. There were younger teachers when I was first here and more British teachers.
When I left high school, I definitely wanted to study science. I thought I was probably more interested in chemistry. Then, I worked in a laboratory in a hospital in London between leaving school and going to university for 7-8 months. That’s when I made the chromosome pictures that I show in class which is what most students remember. I also worked in the same lab during the summer holidays. But actually having worked in that lab for a year, my interests shifted a bit, and I then became more interested in biology. So that’s what I majored in in university. I think when I went to university, I didn’t have a fixed ambition but I thought that I might quite like to do scientific research. When I actually saw the type of life that researchers led, I wasn’t sure I was cut out for it. Researchers spend 3 years on one problem doing a Ph.D. and are self-disciplined enough to keep going all the way through. It can be a fairly isolated life you’re not interacting with a lot of different people in some lab work. That was my impression. I decided in the end that I didn’t want to go in that direction.
Teaching was something where I could continue to use my interest in the field of biology, and I thought I would try it. I wasn’t sure I would like it. Then I actually was going to have yet another gap year between my first degree and teacher training year, and halfway through the year, I actually got a job as a teacher. A local school was desperate for a chemistry teacher and I went and taught part-time there. I found that I liked that job. And I did my teacher training and got a job in a very nice school in Britain, like this school but only boys. I really enjoyed that job. I thought I’ll use the job to travel and work in an international school. So here I am.
I think biology is really interesting. I’ve always liked science. I think when I was in high school, I liked chemistry and physics a bit more. That was partly because back then, things like molecular genetics, all the details of how DNA works, had just been discovered but it really hadn’t filtered into high schools yet. So biology was more of a descriptive subject. I remember having to learn the shapes of the backbones and vertebrae of different animals. I didn’t find that particularly striking. So I liked Chemistry, Physics, and Math. Perhaps I liked these subjects because you have a right answer. That’s satisfying. But as I got older, I found biology more interesting. I think it had a bigger scope than Chemistry or Physics. The fact that things were changing pretty quickly and new discoveries were being made very very fast made it an interesting field to go into. I always joke with Mr. G that what they call modern physics is what they did 100 years ago. Physics hasn’t changed very much since high school. But in biology, if I taught what I did when I first came here I’d be hopelessly out of date. So, I find that it’s interesting that it has a wide scope, it’s got its ambiguities and uncertainties. I like it.” – Mr. Robey