Sunday 22 October 2017

Great Latin lover but no girlfriends

Con Houlihan
Con Houlihan

Con Houlihan

Last week I wrote about Henry St John Atkins and Billy Porter, the two teachers I encountered in my first day in Cork University. In due course I found out that they were the teachers closest to their students. That helped to make them great teachers in their different ways.

Henry Atkins taught mathematics as if building a brick wall, or better still, as if building a drystone wall. In building such a wall you are dealing with stones of different shapes and sizes -- you must proceed craftily. You must make sure that what you have done is solid before going on to the next layer. Henry had a very clear mind and this made his students think clearly too.

Of course, it was impossible to have personal contact with a class of 70 but he encouraged the students to ask questions. And once a week he held an optional class in his office to help those who had some difficulties. We had mathematics three times a week at nine o'clock. I lived more than three miles from the college but I never missed a class -- and I attended the optional classes out of respect.

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