Culture vulture

11th March 2005 at 00:00
Nathan Peel's football coach helped him transfer to teaching

Best book ever

Mike Gayle's Turning Thirty is clever and poignant. He describes going through his laddish twenties and changing when he meets a girl and falls in love. One minute he's out drinking with the lads, the next he's shopping for wine racks. I remember thinking, "Oh my god, that's me!"

Best film ever

I'm a sucker for American football films. I'm very fond of Remember the Titans (pictured, starring Denzel Washington), which looks at racial prejudice in the US in the 1970s through the story of a friendship that develops between a black coach and a white coach. It's all about overcoming barriers; a real heartwarmer.

Best for ideas

I went on a course about BoosterBooks, a literacy scheme for struggling readers that works from children's strengths rather than their weaknesses (devised by Kate Nayler, a former educational psychologist, the main thrust is to motivate poor readers and writers by giving them the task of writing a story and publishing it). It made me want to get into the classroom (www.boosterbooks.co.uk).

Inspired by Before a match at Sheffield United we used to get team talks from the coach "Harry" (Dave) Bassett. When he'd finished we'd have run through walls for him. He wanted us to give our all and never give up, and that approach has rubbed off on me. It's about giving pupils the techniques and strategies to achieve what they want.

Looking forward to

Becoming a teacher. It's been a hard five years getting to this point.

Becoming a footballer had meant living a dream for me as a youngster, but it was also a barrier to my learning. I left school with only one GCSE.

When I left full-time professional football, I went into a business venture that failed. At 26 I had no job and no qualifications. I picked up a post as a classroom assistant in a special needs school. As soon as I was in the classroom I knew this was for me. I did the qualifications I needed (a BTec national diploma in childhood studies and a sports science and health studies degree) while in school. It's the responsibility I want. I can't wait to have my own class.

Nathan Peel, 32, is a former professional footballer for Sheffield United and Burnley, now working towards qualified teacher status at St Michael and St John's RC primary, Clitheroe, Lancashire. He was talking to Elaine Williams

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