Donald Palmer: school chemistry lessons

Donald Palmer describes his interest in science at school and the excitement of chemistry lessons.


And it was only then, you see, in secondary school that people were starting to be aware of racism, or whatever, because at primary school it just didn't occur to you. It's only when we got to the upper school and you're mixing with, not just your contemporaries, but also with bigger boys, and then you'd hear, often hear stories about these guys getting into trouble. But in terms of, sort of my teaching and learning, that's really where I got quite interested in science, and that was partly, my saviour. So I remember getting some great advice from some teachers, one of them was a black teacher, Mr Braithwaite, who was actually quite refreshing because he kind of said what the reality is about the importance of education, which my father sort-of mentioned and drummed onto us, but Mr Braithwaite was cool, you know, he wore tracksuit bottoms, he was regular, but we dossed around at school, but I really liked science. My teacher, who was formidable, Chemistry teacher who I still remember was Mr Irving, and Mr Irving was amazing. He was really the one, and he taught Chemistry, and I got a prize in Chemistry, I got a book, which I still have to this day. And yeah, he sort of got to do all these, we all got to do all these experiments, and what I liked about Mr Irving was that he kind of went beyond the rules of safety [laughs] So for example, you know classic experiments with sodium and water, other teachers used to be really stingy, put in a little bit and... but Mr Irving used to say 'Ok, look, look, a bit more', so we used to do a bit more, so we used to get explosions. I think that excitement and fascination was what sort of drew me to science. And as I mentioned, maybe science kept me out of trouble because it meant that I was a bit more focused in my studies, perhaps more so than being involved in the sound system and being more out on the streets, so to speak. So I was kind of more partly indoors, and you know, well aware of the issues.
  • Interviewee Donald Palmer
  • Duration 00:02:50
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Paul Merchant
  • Date of interview 9/2/2013
  • Shelfmark C1379/102

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