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10 May 2022

Teacher Tuesday: James

Teacher Tuesday: James

Head of Geography and Psychology, James Garside has been a steadfastly reliable member of the EIC teaching staff for the last four years. 

His friendly and humorous personality makes it a real pleasure to have a chat with him, whether it is about his lovely dachshund Freeda, his time at EIC, or about the fun activities he has been up to at the weekend. 

Our conversation with him started by asking what brought him to Ealing Independent College and what kept him here. The way James came across our College is actually quite funny: in need of a change and a new welcoming work environment, James wanted to send his Curriculum Vitae to a recruitment agency; instead, by mistake, he uploaded it onto an open forum, where he was found and contacted with the suggestion of attending an interview at EIC!

From his very first visit, James loved the informal and familiar atmosphere that the College offered, which is also the reason why he stayed ever since: 

Here, it does not matter what students and teachers wear; the teaching and learning are the real focus”. 

In fact, James believes that the College’s main strength lies in the tailored teaching that each and every student gets. Teachers are always available to adapt to the students’ needs and understand what works best for them.

He brought up the example of a Y13 student, Jinwoo, who is currently playing for Brentford football Club; for this reason, sometimes he needs to attend football practice and training sessions, and is not able to be in lessons with his classmates. However, Jinwoo keeps following the curriculum by attending one to one catch up sessions with his teachers. 

James is extremely lucky to be teaching all year groups, as he teaches Psychology to sixth formers, and Geography to GCSE and A-Level students. He feels that this allows him not only to know all the students on a personal level, but also to organise extra curricular activities aimed at different age groups. Throughout the last academic year, he used to accompany on a weekly basis the GCSE students to Lammas park, where they had their sport session. Whereas his Psychology and Sociology Film Club was addressed to older students. 

James is also hoping to add a new after school activity to the College offer next year: as he is a member of the Royal Geographic Society, he is willing to invite his A-Level students to a few Monday lectures that complement their Geography curriculum. 

But, going back to our College everyday life behind the desks, we cannot not mention that exams are fast approaching for the Y11 and 13s! We asked James what advice he could give to our students, both the ones who are going to sit exams next week, and those who will do so in the next couple of years to come. 

James believes that the most useful advice would be to “start working hard for their exams from day 1 of their course”. So many students struggle with the amount of work they need to do when they leave it all at the end, and it is just not possible to catch up on everything.

Students should act like athletes. Athletes can not schedule all the training that they need to do in order to win competitions on the day before a main sport event, but they need to be training months, years in advance.” 

And even though James himself was not good at following his own advice when he was a secondary school student, he now recognises the importance of sticking to a good and healthy study routine since the very early stages of any course. 

But how was James at school, then? James tells us that he loved sports, and he was a very active student. Unfortunately, very often he found his lessons “boring”, and that’s why, as a teacher, he now does his very best to keep the students engaged and make all of his lessons fun - and we think that he really does a very good job in that! 

Even though he is extremely passionate about the subjects he teaches, outside the College, James also has lots of other interests. He sometimes enjoys watching the rowing competitions that take place in Putney, where he goes with his lovely dog Freeda, whereas his main hobby is Scuba Diving. 

James is an assistant scuba diving instructor, and often practices this sport when he goes on holiday. The best place where he has dived is Cuba! 

Finally, a fun fact about him: as in South Africa the word “pants” is used to indicate “trousers”, after moving to the UK he said a couple of times that “he went to work in pants”!

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