My big question: Should I increase my pension payments?

20th June 2008 at 01:00
What is the best advice you have been given?
Linda Penney, 53, is head of careers and teacher of biology and psychology at Dame Alice Harpur School in Bedford

What is the best advice you have been given?

When in doubt, say "yes".

What's your proudest achievement?

Raising two children and seeing them develop into competent young adults with caring, compassionate natures.

What one thing would change your life for the better?

Calorie-free red wine.

What is the song of your life?

"Biko" by Simple Minds, which brings back memories of student marches in support of the free Nelson Mandela movement and the horrors of apartheid in South Africa, and reminds me how much has changed in 30 years. It also makes me think of time spent with pupils from Sharnbrook Upper School in Bedfordshire, working on a shelter for street children in South Africa.

What's the last book you read and how was it?

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. I loved it.

Who would play you in the film of your life?

Jennifer Aniston.

What's the secret about teaching that the wider world doesn't know?

It is like being in your own soap opera with all of life passing before you in edited highlights. It can be hard and frustrating but at its best, fun, and it provides so much unintended comedy.

Where is your favourite place?

Mauritius. I have had fantastic family holidays there.

If you could meet anyone from history, who would it be?

Mary Slessor, the missionary who may be considered the pioneer of women's rights in Africa. She was raised in poverty in Dundee, my home town, before travelling to Nigeria in the mid-19th century in her 20s. She worked tirelessly to improve the health and conditions of women and children, even though she suffered with malaria.

Apart from the job, what three things are most important to you?

Family, time and good health.

What do you wish you'd known when you started teaching that you know now?

You will never get to the bottom of the pile of things to do, so there's no point worrying about it.

What's the big question about life that you would most like answered?

Do I need to increase my pension payments? And by how much?

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