Watch Stephen Hawking praise the teacher who changed his life

14th May 2016 at 09:10
"It all starts with the seed of love."



Professor Stephen Hawking has spoken about how one teacher opened his eyes to the "blueprint of the universe itself: mathematics."

The celebrated physicist explained how teacher Dikran Tahta had helped him build his first computer while he was a student at St. Albans School in Hertfordshire in England.

Describing himself as a lazy pupil with bad handwriting, Professor Hawking [below, far left as a schoolboy] said the maths teacher helped change this by making classes lively and exciting. 

In a video released to coincide with the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, which was awarded back in March in Dubai,  Professor Hawking added that it was thanks to Mr. Tahta that he had become a professor of mathematics at Cambridge University.

In the video, he says: "It all starts with the seed of love. The love of music, the love of history... for me it was the love of science.

Professor Hawking (far left) at St Albans School. Credit: Herts Advertiser

"At St. Albans School, there was an inspirational maths teacher, Mr. Tahta [below]. He opened my eyes to the blueprint of the universe itself: mathematics."

"I wasn't the best student at all. My handwriting was bad, and I could be lazy. Many teachers were boring. Not Mr. Tahta. His classes were lively and exciting. Everything could be debated. Together we built my first computer, it was made with electro mechanical switches."

"Thanks to Mr. Tahta, I became a professor of mathematics at Cambridge, in a position once held by Isaac Newton."

He adds: "I have spent my life attempting to unlock the mysteries of the universe."

Mr Tahta in the 1950s. Credit: The Tahta family

"When each of us thinks about what we can do in life, chances are, we can do it because of a teacher. Behind every exceptional person, there is an exceptional teacher. Today, we need great teachers more than ever."

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow TES USA on Twitter and like TES USA on Facebook.​


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now