Nicola Sturgeon

22nd March 2013 at 00:00
The deputy first minister's finest teacher encouraged her to think independently and examine arguments

My favourite teacher was my modern studies teacher at secondary school, a guy called Roy Kelso, who encouraged the interest I had in politics and current affairs and taught me a lot.

He wasn't particularly strict; he was quite good fun, but in a disciplined way. He made it interesting, he made it fun, he encouraged debate in the classroom, brought things to life in that way, so that was good.

He is not long retired. I think he just retired a couple of years ago, so he was relatively young when he taught me. He probably appeared older than he was - he had a handlebar moustache.

He was a good teacher, but he was also somebody you didn't really always think about as a teacher, because he made the subject interesting.

We were teenagers heading towards the end of school, so my recollection is if you were prepared to work in his class, behave yourself and suchlike, he treated you like an adult. He didn't treat you like a child, he listened to and respected your opinion, and that was something we were receptive to.

He taught me for several years. I did modern studies from third year through to sixth year, so I did O Grade, Higher and Sixth Year Studies.

I took away a deeper understanding of current affairs, how the country was governed. It kind of channelled my own political beliefs.

I don't think - in fact, I know - he wasn't of the same political persuasion as I was, even back then. I was already openly supporting the SNP. In fact, I joined the SNP when I was still at school. But that didn't really matter - he encouraged me to think about things, to think independently, to come to my own conclusions.

We used to debate all the time but, in a way, looking back, I know he was trying to encourage me to think about things differently and examine arguments from all angles, not be one-sided about things and be able to take on opposing points.

We used to debate one-on-one quite a lot about things. Debate was quite a part of his teaching method, as I recall.

It's a long time ago now, longer than I care to remember, but I think I was probably the one in my class who was most interested in modern studies. I probably got more from it than the rest, but generally, I think folk in his class enjoyed it because he had a good style of teaching.

I was interested in politics, but there was no Scottish Parliament back in those days. So I don't think I ever anticipated that I would have a career in politics.

I am very much a words person. I had a very good maths teacher, as it happened, but I didn't like maths, I wasn't that good at science, and I hated art because I'm rubbish at it. But generally speaking, I enjoyed my time at school.

I was interested in a variety of subjects - English, modern studies, these kinds of things. I thoroughly enjoyed school - not every day, not all the time, but generally speaking, particularly secondary. I found it stimulating, I liked learning, and teachers like Mr Kelso encouraged that.

I have seen Mr Kelso since I left. Not recently, but I saw him from time to time. He was always very interested in my political career, and every time I saw him he was keen to catch up. I don't know what he thinks about it, but he should feel that he had some part in it. He did play a part in encouraging that interest.

I hope he does know he made a big impact on me. He saw and took an interest in an aptitude that was there and encouraged it and brought it out of me. He made it more interesting and gave me a belief that it was something worth sticking at.

Nicola Sturgeon was talking to Julia Belgutay.


Born: Irvine, 1970

Education: Greenwood Academy, Dreghorn; University of Glasgow

Career: Solicitor, Drumchapel Law Centre; MSP for Glasgow Southside; deputy first minister since 2004.

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