New College teacher, Mark Anderson, has received a nomination for a University of Oxford Inspirational Teachers Award. The University’s Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach Office runs the annual award scheme which recognises the crucial role teachers and careers advisors play in encouraging talented students in their schools or colleges. A selection of current first-year Oxford undergraduates are asked to nominate those who inspired them to apply to Oxford, fostered their passion for a particular subject or supported them through the application process. Elena Trowsdale, a former student he taught at Notre Dame Catholic Sixth Form College, nominated Mark for this award and had the following to say about why she submitted her nomination:
Every Friday afternoon, I would enter my English class in a state of misbehaving lunacy, ready for the weekend and well-prepared to wreak havoc. Then, when I saw a poem on the board and Dr. Anderson calmly waiting for attention, something in my soul would shift. When he read out each poem, his genuine adoration and emotional response to the work would move me to tranquility. Never have I met anyone else more devoted to John Keats, to complexity, to subtlety and to the expression and escape of liminal spaces.
Coming from a comprehensive school in Pudsey, I had never encountered true academic passion. To see this glowing love of knowledge originating from someone of a similar background to me, who used to read poetry in breaks from bricklaying (as far as I remembered he told me), proved to me the possibility and incredible value of pursuing academic study. Where other teachers were concerned with mark schemes and exam format, he was genuinely interesting in cultivating everyone’s natural voice and individual opinion. Rather than pushing my class-mates too far or expelling them from the course for bad marks like the other teachers, his acute understanding of emotion and learning meant that he knew exactly what every class-member needed to thrive. With me, he pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to go above and beyond the exam specification with extra reading, seminars and assignments. I felt as if someone respected and believed in me as an adult academic rather than an over-enthusiastic child. Seeing him complete his doctorate and reading his dissertation inspired me to pursue my interests but seeing him alter the perceptions and fine tune the emotional intelligences of my entire class inspired so much more. Now I am not only an Oxford English student, I am an advocate for the voice of northern writings, a believer of social change through literary means and truly dedicated to the powers of poetry. I will never forget the way those Friday afternoon poems spoke to me, and always cherish the belief, dedication and time Dr. Anderson devoted to my personal success.
Mark was delighted to receive the nomination. “It was a nice surprise. I have fond memories of teaching Elena and I am very proud of her. It’s always lovely to see students develop a passion for literature, and also to see them understand that they can aspire to access competitive universities, leaving their sixth form years with the knowledge, skills and self-belief to go on and follow their passions at the highest level. Often students self-deselect through thinking ‘this is not for me’ or ‘I’m not good enough’, when this is often very much not the case. So it is nice to feel that you’ve played a part in helping them see what extraordinary people they are and what they can achieve.”
You can find out more about the University of Oxford Inspirational Teachers Award at: