Culture vulture

10th February 2006 at 00:00
Miles Berry enjoys a cinema experience from a more refined age

Best books

My favourite has to be Michael Mayne's This Sunrise of Wonder. It's a series of letters to his grandchildren about art, music and literature, woven together with his faith. I go back to that book a lot: it's been an inspiration to me. I also read detective stories, science fiction and non-fiction. I love Michael Dibdin and Ian Pears. Iain Banks is another favourite: I particularly like his Look to Windward, which is set in a far future of infinite resources and shows that humanity has benefited from technological innovation. It's an optimistic book; some of his others are darker.

Civilised cinema

In Godalming, where I live, we have this wonderful "part-time" cinema with a 1930s atmosphere in the town hall. It screens films for just one or two nights at the end of their release. There's an interval, so you can get a coffee and chat about the film. It was fascinating seeing A Beautiful Mind (pictured, the film about the mathematician John Forbes Nash), because the story changes completely in the second half.

Best on the web

In the past year, I've had success with Moodle.org, a virtual-learning environment, and Elgg.net, which is blogging software with social networking built into it, so my pupils' blogs automatically link across to each other when there is a link between one child's experience and another's. I've also become excited about digital photography. We've built up an online school gallery of 10,000 digital photos over the years and use them for screensavers. It reminds children of things they've done and people they knew five years ago.

Treat in store

I'm hoping to get tickets to this summer's Salzburg Festival, which celebrates the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth. I went to Salzburg three years ago and it was wonderful, such a sense of striving for perfection. On a teacher's salary, I don't go to opera as much as I'd like, but we went to Julius Caesar at Glyndebourne last year and that rekindled my taste for Handel's operas. My favourite piece of music varies. At the moment it's Mahler's 2nd symphony. When it comes to the end, you feel life is good.

Miles Berry, 36, is deputy head of St Ives independent prep school for girls in Haslemere, Surrey, and winner of BECTA's 2006 primary ICT in practice award. Interview by Karen Gold

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