Richard Mason teaches physics and math at The British School of Beijing (BSB Shunyi campus). A UK native, Mason has lived in Beijing on and off since 2005, first coming to China as a head teacher at a sixth form college in Shenzhen and then to work at Harrow International School of Beijing (HISB). Mason married and eventually returned to the UK with his wife to start a family. The couple wanted their sons to grow up in an international environment and become bilingual, which led the family back to Beijing where they joined the team at BSB Shunyi four years ago. Mason shares more about himself with beijingkids.
What’s was your favorite subject when you were a student?
I enjoyed lots of things. I was always good at math and physics, I enjoyed history and literature a great deal, and was deeply involved in drama/theater (was with a professional theater then). I was brought up to find the wonder and fascination in everything.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? What other career options did you explore before teaching?
I thought about the theater, I wanted to be a pilot, (even had a go at that actually), and I wanted to travel. I took up teaching to think about it and get the money to get to Australia. I tried the computing industry and eventually was working as a writer in Milan writing technical manuals for semi-customized microcomputers. I enjoyed that but I also enjoyed the teaching by then and was in a management position.
How would your students describe your teaching style?
Enigmatic has been used. Also fun, funny, and challenging. They know I care whether they succeed and feel I know what I am talking about.
What was your favorite book growing up? What are you currently reading?
All the Hornblower books, then the usual suspects such as To kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, Slaughterhouse Five and such. I’m currently reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the third installment in the trilogy starting with the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Engrossing and brilliant reads.
How do you like to relax on the weekends?
I read, walk, would fish if I could, cook, and try different things.
Where do you like to go on holiday? Italy. I love Italy. I lived there for five years; Italians have got it right. I also like Scotland. I enjoy wild places, lonely beaches, wild life, mountains, and whisky.
What’s something most people don’t know about you? I have flown an aircraft, worked professionally in theater, abseiled off huge viaducts, crashed cars and motorbikes, hitched across Europe, lobster-potted in the North Sea, started CND groups, met lots of politicians including Neil Kinnock, Tony Blair (showed him about ICT in education), walked round Cyril Smith once (that was a long journey) and lots of things I should not mention in public!
What’s currently on your playlist?
Hendrix and Zappa.
What’s do you find most rewarding about teaching?
In my subjects we are about understanding principles and reapplying them to new situations and not regurgitating information. Seeing my students going off to Imperial, Cambridge, Berkeley, UCLA. I have sent many off to top universities to do physics and related courses and still hear from ex students who are now professors in top universities in the States or looking at global warming in the Arctic. I get a huge kick when someone comes in at a low level and I affect their work habits by making contact and they end up being successful. This certainly happened in my early years at Harrow Beijing with two girls in particular who arrived in Year 12 and had few qualifications between them. Both went to really good courses at good universities in the UK and are now successful and fulfilled, and thank me on their web pages. Making a difference makes it for me.
Meet the Teacher is a beijingkids blog series designed to help the Beijing community learn more about international school teachers. If your school would like to participate in the series, please email the school editor at email@example.com