National Teaching Fellowship
“Learning for Life”
Learning for life, a double entendre in the subtitle of my doctoral thesis, underscores my belief that teaching enables “learning for life”, both as skills for life and over life’s course. Equally, Clement Stone’s aspirational quote: “Always aim for the Moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the Stars”, epitomises my ‘performance’ of the art of teaching. This performance of learning culminates in my achievements, demonstrated through successes in students I am fortunate enough to share life’s learning with. Most of my own students, living in the UK and abroad, study entirely on-line. I also teach in classrooms of small groups to 200plus; on multi-professional undergraduate courses to doctoral programmes, and supervise post graduate researchers. Despite leaving school at 16 with 2 ‘O’ levels, my academic trajectory since has been upwardly mobile, especially with 34 of these past 39 years as a formal student myself. Experiencing the value of education makes me ‘hungry’ for learning and, so I am told, gives me the ability to tirelessly encourage and inspire learning in countless hundreds others since then, not least through the medium of appropriate humour. Katrina S, University of Greenwich [UG] 1st year student, 2013, said:
“Your lectures are interesting, engaging, fun and very humorous at times, without moving away from the seriousness of the subject at hand. I have been entertained, educated and inspired by you, to the point of considering specialising as a sexual health midwife once I am qualified.”
For me, teaching – especially sexual health and HIV studies – is not a job or a chore; it is a passion and a love-affair with learning. The ability to share this with others has lasted almost 24 years and shows no sign of abating. The learning I facilitate and teach is not just for any esoteric ‘love of wisdom’; my philosophy is to promote ‘com/passion’ in caring, and to bring a healing hand to the learner’s clients’ holistic sexual health needs.
“I do not know how David manages to provide this level of support to all those who wish to pursue academia but somehow he does! David provides support beyond what any student would expect from their tutor and is always available should help be needed. This in turn contributes to the care patients receive in sexual health settings, as well as the wider academic contributions. David is a role model for all those working in sexual health.”Vicky Dixon, one of my long-term students, MA sexual health graduand, 2013
A Practice Nurse nearing retirement introduced herself to me just as I was about to speak at a national conference. She had heard me speak to around 670 nurses a few years earlier, on the theme of one of my articles: “Clever Dicks Do It In a Condom!” Aiming to remember one key point from every speaker, from me it was “always mention safer sex in travel health consultations, no matter the patient’s age, abilities, orientations or relationship status”. The nurse carried this out, but said she regretted having gone for so many years previously missing out on what she called “the joys of dealing with a ‘Pandora’s Box’ of sexual health issues” that this one little permission-to-speak had achieved (Taylor and Davis 2006; Evans 2013). If the thousands of students I have taught over the years did just one thing like this, then there would be a definite revolution in sexual health care!
“At 31 yrs old, that was the best presented sex education I’ve come across. Wished I’d had that at 15 years old!!”
Maurice M, UG 1st year student,
The transformative effect my professional life has on leading learning with individual, local and national impact, emanates from three caring professions: nursing, the Catholic priesthood, and now sexual health education. Interchangeable skills from these professions, “synthesise layers of intensity and perspectives” (Burgess et al.2006) as they come together in the characteristic ways I share learning, whether on-line, in the classroom, or in personal one-to-one encounters. The Sexual Health Skills course (hereafter SHS) enabled me to manage the learning of over 2,500 people in the past 10 years, with commendation of the course in a Government Report (IAG-SH 2007). Sustained impact of SHS laid foundations for us at University of Greenwich to develop an acclaimed ‘top up’ BSc(Hons) and Masters degree (professional / advanced practice) in sexual health. SHS remains the compulsory core course of the bachelor degree. SHS widened my influence on learning on a national, and sometimes international, scale. This impact, promoting my subject-specialist domain of sexual health, is accompanied by over 50 conference presentations, a plethora of publications, and involvement at national level in the leadership and management of sexual health learning for practice, aimed at transforming lives.
“David is an enthusiastic and engaging lecturer with an animated and passionate demeanour. He prepares and delivers compelling lectures which tactfully deliver, often sensitive, topics with a balance of perceptive consciousness and a thought provoking manner. David integrates his students and encourages discussion, his lessons acting as an excellent platform for both group and individual work. His expertise in the domain of sexual health is evident as is his passion and avid interest for the subject.”
Eleanor H. UG SHS student evaluation form, 2013