Director of Professional Learning & Development, Daniel Brown, is a Dulwich College alumnus who joined us in late 2020. He shares with us his journey as an educator, the famous people he'd like to sit down to dinner with and his most memorable teaching moment.
1) Where else in the world have you lived?
I grew up in the UK in South London and attended Dulwich College as a student. I have spent most of my teaching career in the UK, but did have a wonderful year teaching in a school in Durban, South Africa. This made me very attached to the African continent and I have spent a lot of time around Southern and Eastern Africa. We came to Singapore in 2010 as my wife got a job here. I spent 3 months as a house husband. I quickly discovered that I was highly unsuited to this role and found a teaching job in SJI International School to regain my sanity. I was at SJI International for ten years, but now I am back "home" at Dulwich.
2) Tell us about your family.
I have three children who all now attend the College in Year 4, Year 6 and Year 9. My wife is a corporate lawyer from New Zealand. My brother is also a teacher, at Wycombe Abbey in the UK.
3) What’s your favourite weekend activity in Singapore?
I love the nature and wildlife of Singapore and try to go for a long walk around the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve every weekend. I also enjoy cooking the family roast on Sunday evenings and supporting my favourite football team (AFC Wimbledon).
4) Did you always want to be an educator?
Yes. I wasn't particularly motivated in classes at school but found my passion in helping lead the Dulwich College Scout Troop when I was in the Sixth Form. It made me realise that I loved teaching (and the outdoors) and helped me develop some responsibility and leadership skills.
5) What is your favourite book and who is your favourite author?
It has been difficult to decide on a favourite, so I will mention the one that I am reading at the moment, which I am really enjoying as it is both thought-provoking and challenging. It is called how to be an Antiracist by Ibrahim Kendi.
6) Tell us about a hidden talent or a top-secret that no-one would know about you.
Top Secret: I have a very famous relative - not telling you who though or it would not be a secret. Hidden talent: probably cooking or reciting useless facts about AFC Wimbledon football club.
7) Which five people would you invite to a dinner party, dead or alive?
- The Queen would be one. Many years ago I had the chance to meet the Queen to receive an award and decided (for reasons I now find hard to fathom) to not attend. I regret this and would like to meet her.
- Lee Kuan Yew - I find his vision and how he led Singapore fascinating and would love to talk to him about it.
- Vinnie Jones - my favourite footballer as a kid, now an actor. For me he symbolizes the idea that anyone can succeed at anything through hard work and dedication. I met him briefly on a few occasions and he also seemed like an incredibly nice man, so it taught me not to believe everything that you read in the news. Not sure if he would get on with the Queen though!
- David Attenborough - his enthusiasm got me interested in wildlife. It is a passion that I still have.
- A guy called Erwin who was one of the cleaners at my old school. He is the most wonderful, hard-working, honest and dedicated man and I know how excited he would be meeting all of the other people at the table.
8) What does a typical day at the College look like for you?
I haven't been there that long so it is difficult to describe an average day as they are all different, although a lot of my time at the moment is spent trying to understand how my new Apple MacBook works! My role is Director of Professional Learning and Development so I will be working with all staff across the school, helping them improve what they are doing. This doesn't mean that they are doing anything wrong, but we can all get better. I teach one Year 8 Geography class and hope to do some more teaching next year. So, at the moment I am in lots of meetings, learning about the school and helping with a plan to go forward.
I have also been asked to lead the College’s new Diversity & Inclusion initiative, in partnership with an external specialist consultancy, which I am very excited about as it is opening up a whole new world of learning for me and I think this is a really important piece of work underpinning our ‘Better Together’ theme this year.
9) Do you have a motto or saying that really resonates with you?
"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." (Maya Angelou)
I try and remember this whenever I meet staff or students.
10) Do you have a most memorable teaching moment?
It was a student at a school in a very tough area. She had the most terribly unfortunate upbringing. She was taken away from her parents and was kept in care homes. She was continually moved from one care home to another and one school to another (she had been excluded from three schools). She was sent to my school and I decided that, whatever happened, we would get her through school as no one had given any stability in her life. It was a very rough ride, with lots of teachers not very happy with my decision to keep giving her chances as her behaviour was very challenging at first. In the end, she came out of school with some GCSEs and a qualification in hairdressing. Seeing her face when she opened her exam results envelope was a very proud moment for me. She now owns her own hairdressing and beauty business and is very successful. It reminds me that teachers can change lives.