Alistair McConville
Alistair McConville
Director of Learning and Innovation

MA, Theology & Religious Studies, University of Cambridge
Post Graduate Certificate in Education, University of Gloucestershire

What makes a good teacher at Bedales? 

People skills are key here; you need to be able to understand and tap into the motivations and interests of young people, and remember what it was like to be at school, emulating the good bits and avoiding repetition of the bad bits! A genuine affection for your students is pretty central to successful teaching here, since we rely so much on positive relationships rather than the grind of authoritarian approaches. It's not easy to inspire students if they don't like you!

What are you trying to encourage and instil in your students?

An inquisitive nature; the habit of challenging preconceived ideas; the ability to see more than one point of view, and to make a judgement without being dogmatic.

Apart from your teaching role, what else do you get involved with at the school?

I've managed to squeeze some pretty exciting trips out of my short time here. Paris, Belgium, Rome & Namibia, to name but a few! I love going off on adventures with students, since it really enables teachers to get to know what makes them tick, which really helps in the classroom and the boarding houses, too. I'm a resident tutor, and for the same reasons, appreciate the chance to get to know them outside an academic context and engage in a bit of banter, not only because it helps relationships in an academic context, but also just because I like people, and spending time with the youth makes me feel less ancient!

In your opinion, what makes Bedales special?

Undoubtedly the quality of relationships between kids, and between kids and staff. It's a confident, warm community, engaged in all of the worthwhile sporting / cultural / intellectual activities you can possibly imagine. It's focused on preparing students for life in a really worthwhile, balanced, humane way, rather than solely focusing on the grades that come at the end, though we do pretty well there too!

What is your best memory of Bedales?

Outdoor Work on a sunny day. Gypsy caravans, sheep and apple-pressing.

Who or what inspires you?

Keith Ward (a philosopher/theologian) / Eric Cantona (a philosopher/footballer, for the way he played the game)/enthusiastic Bedales students (future philosophers/actors/artists/Nobel Prize winners).

Tell us something not a lot of people know about you.

I built a swimming pool in the Bolivian jungle.