Obituary - John Logan Lewis, 1923-2012

14th December 2012 at 00:00

John Logan Lewis' incredible energy and enthusiasm, combined with great organisational ability, meant he was adept at bringing people together to get things done.

As a science teacher, examiner and curriculum expert, he was a member of national and international science organisations. He was awarded a medal for services to education for the Queen's Silver Jubilee and appointed OBE.

John Logan Lewis was born on 23 September 1923 in Reading, where his father worked for the biscuit firm Huntley and Palmers. His skill at mathematics meant he was awarded a scholarship to attend Malvern College.

The Second World War disrupted his education; staff and students at Malvern were evacuated on two occasions, first to Blenheim and later to Harrow, owing to the site being requisitioned for the war effort.

Despite this, Mr Lewis got a place at Pembroke College, Cambridge in 1942 to study maths and physics. As a student he became interested in astronomy and founded the Cambridge University Astronomical Society. Later in his career he became a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.

In 1944 he started working on tank armament research at the government experimental site in Porton Down, Wiltshire. Two years later he began teaching at Eastbourne College, before returning to Malvern College as a member of staff. Apart from a spell at Cambridge to finish his degree, Mr Lewis remained at Malvern for the rest of his career. In 1955, he was appointed head of the science department and in 1961 became housemaster.

Mr Lewis married Maureen in 1952 and they had two sons, Richard and Anthony, who were born in 1955 and 1957.

Mr Lewis was a caring teacher who always found time to look after pupils' interests; in return he was liked and respected by them. He was also prepared to try new things. He advocated boys at Malvern spending time on drama and music productions with girls from a nearby school - a radical idea at the time - because he believed it was right.

In the classroom he encouraged children to find out information for themselves rather than spoon-feeding them. He was known for putting on "wonderful" experiments.

But he had other interests, too. Mr Lewis was an enthusiastic and accomplished English folk dancer and founded the Malvern Swordsmen, who continue to tour the Cotswold villages during the summer. He also enjoyed drama and was a Freemason, as well as a brass rubber and a bell-ringer.

Mr Lewis held positions at the Institute of Physics, the Association for Science Education, what was then known as the British Association for the Advancement of Science and the European Physical Society. He also travelled the world to investigate teaching methods and to give lectures of his own. He designed secondary teaching programmes for the Nuffield Project and played a key role in reforming courses in maths and science. Mr Lewis died on 11 October aged 89.

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