In virtual loving memory

19th September 2008 at 01:00
An online mausoleum for the teaching profession will allow colleagues and pupils to pay tribute to them, reports Irena Barker

A charity that supports teachers in times of need has created a "virtual mausoleum" where bereaved pupils and colleagues can pay tribute to teachers who have died.

Visitors to Great Teachers Remembered will be able to create elaborate pages in homage to their teachers, adding memories, poems and photographs.

The aim of the site is to give a forum to grieving pupils, parents and colleagues and to celebrate inspiring teaching.

The website also offers links to the bereavement services of the Teacher Support Network (TSN) charity.

A number of leading figures in education have already posted their memories of teachers who have passed away.

Education journalist Francis Beckett has posted a tribute to NF Simpson, his English teacher at City of Westminster College during the 1960s.

Mr Simpson was the author of the now largely forgotten plays One Way Pendulum and A Resounding Tinkle, and later went on to become a film scriptwriter.

"He understood how literature comes alive for young people," said Mr Beckett. "We spent many happy hours dissecting the characters in the work we studied."

Mr Beckett also writes of his history teacher, Dr Warren, a "short stout man", with a "rather endearing accent" which he could not quite place.

"He taught with an indulgent, wistful air about the foolishness of human beings and human institutions and knew when to stop and reflect.

"He taught me, not just that the Bourbons returned in 1815 `having learned nothing and forgotten nothing' but how this remarkable phase describes much of the history of the world.

"It was because of Dr Warren that I went on to study history at university."

Christine Blower, acting general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, has also written a heartfelt eulogy to her headteacher at Tolworth Girls' School in Surbiton, Surrey, describing her as a "great advocate of girls' education".

"Miss Davies was a magnificent presence around the school and the school library has been named after her," Miss Blower writes.

"The really significant thing about her was that she really did genuinely know everyone and would constantly be talking to people, asking them questions about their life as well as questions about how they were doing at school."

The site follows the current trend for "virtual cemeteries", which have been set up for people to post tributes to loved ones, and even pets.

Sites for murder or suicide victims are also growing in popularity, and Facebook pages of the deceased are often hijacked by mourners.

All those posting on the website will be asked for a donation to TSN. Patrick Nash, TSN's chief executive, said the site would help boost the awareness of teachers' contribution to society.

"The website will host permanent tributes to those who have had such a profoundly positive effect on our lives," he said. "From interacting with tens of thousands of teachers, we know that the loss of a teacher can be a very distressing time for family, colleagues and pupils.

"We hope that Great Teachers Remembered will provide a space in which affected school communities can come together to pay tribute to lost ones and the wonderful impact teachers have on the lives of others.


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