Education has so many aspects and can influence one's future in so many ways. My six years in a primary school began in Liverpool in 1939. It was the same year the Second World War started. Liverpool was one of the many cities subject to such frequent, violent air attacks that each time students headed for, or left, their school, they had to wear gas masks! The war ended in 1945, the same year my passing the Eleven Plus exam sent me to the local grammar school, which made possible, in due course, university experience. An early class helped point the way to my future. On the first day of a class on the Renaissance, the teacher asked us what the Renaissance WAS; we had no idea. He walked over to a misty window and drew on it a question mark. THAT, he said, was the Renaissance: THAT is education. I knew then, I wanted to be a teacher.
I later secured a BA at Cambridge University, Magdalene College, a diploma of education at Bristol University, and a teaching assistantship leading to a PhD at The University of California, Berkeley. My subject was Classics -- the languages and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome and their influence on modern Western cultures.
I became a professor of Classics at York University, Toronto, Canada. I was impressed by its considerable interested in its new approaches to teaching and learning. I launched Classics there as a program within the Division of Humanities, a division being a linking of departments and teachers in creative ways. I was also a fellow of Founders, the first college at the Downsview campus. Many colleges followed, each with its special interest in the lives of its students. I served as Master of Founders in 1976. My aim was to help all students feel at home there from the day they arrived. Before the new campus was built, the students were housed at Glendon College, a beautiful part of Toronto. York meant such a new experience, built as it was at first and for many years, in a basic wilderness at the north end of Toronto. Apart from a large variety of sports and entertainment, there were frequent meetings of fellows and students from all walks of life to discuss particular and general issues of the day. It was a casual and dynamic way for multiple generations to get to know each other. There was a fine feeling at York in those days that reflected a genuine collegiality in the exchange of ideas. I turned down other professional offers; in fact, York's exciting academic culture kept me there for my whole career.
My publications include three books: The Lyric Poems of Greek Tragedy; Magic in Greek Myth and Literature; and Visions of Enchantment: Magic: Essays on Magic in Fiction. In addition, I wrote a variety of articles and reviews in Phoenix, a Canadian classics magazine.
And it all started with a question mark...