Cradle to grave

14th March 2003 at 00:00
Nicol Stephen was, very obviously, the only person who could have opened the annual conference of the Association for Science Education (ASE) Scotland, held in Aberdeen.

Stephen is the local MSP. Plus, he is Deputy Education Minister. But - most important of all - his father was a physics teacher.

His address certainly challenged the normal boundaries of professional aspiration by asking the assembled science teachers what they would like to have inscribed on their gravestones.

"Would it be 'I helped deliver the National Qualifications effectively?' Or perhaps 'I was a loyal servant to my headteacher?' Or might it say 'I helped to inspire a generation of children in brilliant and imaginative science work - and I helped to drive the future'?"

Such advance intimations of mortality certainly shed new light on the demands of continuing professional development.

With a self-irony not always evident in his own profession, Stephen conceded that his own gravestone would probably say, somewhat lamely: "He was a politician."

Or maybe, he added with a twinkle, "a statesman".

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today