Bryan Nixon, Head of School at TASIS The American School in England, talks us through his own experiences of school
What was your favourite subject at school?
My favourite subject at school was history, which is topical for me because I’m from Belfast and, obviously, we are rooted in history. I loved the subject and what it taught me about the culture of Ireland and about the different perspectives that surround historical events.
Why did you choose a career in education?
My history teacher called Mr Webb inspired me to research, to think critically and to take on other people’s perspective, which was something that I hadn’t done throughout my life growing up in Northern Ireland. Ever since then, I wanted to project that forward to other people and students.
You’re head of an international school – have you taught in any other locations across the world?
I started my teaching career in a town just outside Belfast. My career then took me to the Bahamas, Germany and then to Greenwich, Connecticut. I am now here at TASIS England. I have also been a Head of School in Germany and the United States.
What are the benefits of following an American or an IB curriculum?
The main benefit is that these curricula are significant, relevant, engaging and challenging. They provide a real world context for learning and they provide for individual pathways. They allow teachers to be flexible and innovative and promote student ownership of their learning journey.
How do you ensure the school community celebrates the range of different cultures that students are part of?
TASIS England is an international school not only because we have over 50 nationalities on campus but also because of how we purposefully delve into each other’s cultures, perspectives, and opinions through our curriculum and through the exploration of local and global issues.
Have your own school days influenced the way you approach your role as a headteacher?
The fact that I am a Head of School is quite a surprise to my family. I think that Mr Webb probably had the biggest influence on me as an educator. He taught me to become a critical thinker and to not be afraid to challenge and understand different perspectives.
What are you looking forward to this coming year?
This coming year I hope to have even more time to continue to support our school community through this pandemic and to seize the learning and community-building opportunities it presents. School is not only about what you learn, it is also about how you develop as a person.
If you could teach anyone – either present-day or from history – who would you choose?
I would choose Seamus Heaney, the famous Irish poet. It is more about him teaching me than the other way around! He had a gift of explaining life through his poetry and I really connected with his work. I would have loved to have interacted with him on any level.
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