Link to George’s Welsh’s memory>>
David began his teaching career in Slough at the age of 22 in 1963. His first school was William Penn County Secondary School, Buckinghamshire. He had achieved a degree in Physics and Chemistry at Sheffield University prior to his appointment. He was inspired in his career choice by his French teacher. His first job paid £70 per month. He set about the development of a science laboratory in the school. Went to Eton College to talk to a man about making Science benches. He used tubular steel and sheets of plywood. Had to allow space for the gas taps. The school did a study on water voles on the Thames, which was unusual. He taught all the Sciences and was self-taught in Biology, teaching up to O’level in this subject. Got a reflecting telescope but it was difficult to open it in the evening as the school system would not pay for a caretaker to open and lock up. It was frustrating. Stayed in the school for a year.
Moved then to Aberlour House in Moray, which was a total change. Applied for a job as a teacher of Mathematics and Science (8-13 years). Accommodation was included. The head, Toby Coghill (1964-1989) came up to Slough. Meeting him was an inspiration. David was invited to come and look at the school. He had decided to take the job as the train came up to Craigellachie and he saw the beautiful landscape. Prior to this he had only been as far as Aviemore. The school was for boys only until 1973 when it became co-educational.
He was able to organise a wide variety of activities for the children. There were numerous expeditions and field trips. David and his classes started a study of bird pellets from Barn Owl Roosts and other birds of prey. As the Recorder of Mammals for Moray the findings were reported to the National Mammal Society. David founded the International Bird Pellet Study Group and started communicating with people all over the world including museums and universities. the children’s role was making observations and recordings.
Another study was the distribution of woodlice during a given year e.g. 1970. With the children, David found one woodlouse in a holiday cottage in the Cabrach and sent it to a Scottish Woodlouse Expert. It was a Porcello Spiniconis (related to Porcellio Scaber) and had not been seen in Scotland before. It had a black head and yellow spots. They went looking for it every 10 sq. km. and found them everywhere including the mortar of ruined cottages. A distribution map was created.
Click here to continue reading about David’s teaching work including cockroach trading, flea collecting, setting up a bird pellet group and solving rubik cubes…………
Memory contributed by David Hanson from Dufftown