In the ninth of our regular series of interviews with staff at Dulwich International High School Suzhou, we are delighted to present the highlights of an interview with Steve Hodgkin, Head of Geography and University & College Counsellor at our school.
1 Where are you from and where did you grow up?
I am from a town near Liverpool called Kirkby. Liverpool city is famous for its music and football, but Kirkby is actually one of the poorest towns in the UK. The school that I went to had one of the worst exam records in England and Wales and I had to do my A Levels in an adult education centre in the next town because it was the only place available in the area that did these exams!
2 Tell us about your Educational background + teaching experience
I was lucky enough to pass my A Levels and go to Cambridge University to study geography. I said on there to do my teacher training. I taught for 6 years in Birmingham and London government schools (including the largest school in England) before moving to teach in an independent boarding school. I am about to complete 25 years in teaching - and this is my 13th year in international teaching. I taught at Dulwich International High School Zhuhai for 5 years before transferring to Dulwich International High School Suzhou. I have also taught in Dubai and Sri Lanka.
3 When did you realize you wanted to become a teacher?
When I was studying at university - I wanted to use my subject and to work with young people, rather than having a boring office job.
4 Who is your biggest role model?
Don't follow leaders and role models - set your own standards!
5 What are your hobbies and what do you enjoy most about them?
Rolling on the floor and playing with my two-year-old daughter! I have never laughed so much!
6 What is most rewarding about your job?
The students - Dulwich International High School Suzhou students are a joy to teach and I could never go back to teaching in the UK without regrets.
7 If you could be in any musical or movie or a book character what would it be? Why?
I am a character in my own movie!
8 What food is like a guilty pleasure to you?
9 Tell us about your experiences living in China and Suzhou
Great food, great people - but bring your own toilet tissue when you leave home and look in every direction when you cross the road. The best way to cross a road is to walk in the middle of a big group of locals - safety in numbers! Suzhou is a beautiful city (especially the Canglang Pavilion Garden) and it has fewer cockroaches than Zhuhai.
10 How do you find teaching Chinese students/or students?
Delightful - they set themselves the highest standards and my job is to support them.
11 Any advice to students at Dulwich international High School Suzhou?
Always ask questions and do not trust anyone over 30 (or under 30 for that matter!)
12 What are your plans for the next 5 years?
Watching my daughter grow up and enjoying a (relatively) happy family (inshallah!)