James Gilmour teaches English and TOK (Theory of Knowledge), a compulsory course in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), at Dulwich College Beijing. The UK native wanted to sample life in China, travel the region, and having lived in warm weather countries for the past five years, was ready to live somewhere cooler in the wintertime. Gilmour shares a bit about himself with beijingkids in our popular Meet the Teacher blog series.
What’s was your favorite subject when you were a student?
I should say English but I really loved geography – looking at maps and considering all the wonderful places in the world that there is to visit. I was very fortunate to have great teachers when I was at school and still meet my old English teacher when I am back in the UK.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? What other career options did you explore before teaching?
I wanted to be a ski instructor in my teens, then a journalist. I went to university to study journalism and then I saw the light and became a teacher. If I swapped my career now, I would want to be a travel photographer.
How would you (or your students) describe your teaching style?
Friendly, authoritative, and enjoyable.
What was your favorite book growing up? What are you currently reading?
When I was younger I loved reading books by Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and then, Robert Westall. I can’t remember much from those days but I do remember being 10 and buying King of the Cloud Forests by Michael Morpurgo and enjoying it a great deal. I’m currently reading Bradley Wiggins’ autobiography. He was the first Englishman to win the Tour de France in 2012 and is a cycling superstar.
How do you like to relax on the weekends?
I like to play sport, see friends, and I have made a promise to spend at least one weekend a month exploring what Beijing has to offer.
Where do you like to go on holiday?
I love traveling so this is a tricky one. I would like to go back to Nepal and Myanmar one day but I intend to tick off Mongolia, Japan, South Korea, and Tibet over the next few years. I guess I prefer mountains and culture to sandy beaches and palm trees.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
That I can juggle and know the odd card trick.
What’s currently on your playlist?
Gold by Imagine Dragons and Thunder Clatter by Wild Cub. I recommend listening to them both!
What’s do you find most rewarding about teaching?
In my last school in Brunei, I taught a Year 13 IB class and in their leaving assembly, two students stood up and thanked me for the effort I had put in to helping them with not just their English, but also the other aspects of the IB course and opening their eyes to the opportunities that await them in the outside world. That’s the greatest thing about teaching; knowing that when students leave at the end of their school career, you know they’ll succeed in the outside world. Hopefully, I might just have helped them a little. It’s also nice to receive messages of thanks when you leave a job and my Year 10 class gave me a personalized t-shirt that linked to a text we had read. That’s pretty special.
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
Photos: Courtesy of Dulwich College Beijing