For each newsletter this year, we will interview a BSB Teacher so that parents and students can get to know interesting facts about our teachers. This month, we interviewed Mr. Jim Hartland, Head of the Psychology, who has been teaching at BSB for 10 years.
Jim completed his Honours degree in Psychology and English at Worcester University and went on to take his PGCE in Beijing. He is due to finish his Masters in Psychology in February 2019 after completing his research project on culture and risky behavior.
What first brought Jim to BSB in 2008?
I was always fascinated by China and wanted to explore more. I had the stereotyped image of what life would be like in Asia from watching TV and movies and I wanted to see what things were like in real life. When I first arrived in China, I experienced some culture shock – it was nothing like I imagined! There were so many opportunities and experiences to have that my first 3 years passed like lightning. I starred in TV shows and commercials, taught English from pre-school to advanced business English, got lost in all different parts of China, met all sorts of amazing people…and even found the time to fall in love and get married!
Jim's family in Beijing
I met my wife-to-be in Beijing while I was out shopping in a local supermarket. I was looking desperately for some western food (sometimes, I just need some western food!) and a voice at my shoulder asked me if I would like to try a sample of chewing gum. Hearing someone speak English was quite rare when I arrived in Beijing, so we started talking and getting to know each other. Before we knew it, we were engaged and then married. Now we have two young daughters who keep us both on our toes and take up most of our time with dance lessons, homework and exploring parks.
Teaching at BSB
Without doubt, the best thing about teaching in BSB is the students - always polite, always engaged and always eager to join in. I’m the sort of teacher that hates a quiet classroom – I want discussions, conversations, thoughts and ideas to be bouncing around the classroom and the students here never let me down.
Every class I have taught in BSB has always had students who are willing and eager to try new activities and push themselves to do things they find challenging. You can’t become a teacher without enjoying talking about your subject and wanting to engage with you students and that’s what I love about coming to work here.
Psychology programme at BSB
The Psychology programme has grown quickly in BSB. When we first began, we just had one class of A-level students with about 6 students in total. Now we teaching I/GCSE Psychology and IB Diploma Psychology and the classroom is always full. Last year, we even had to make an extra class so everyone who wanted to study could join. We always try to do something different in class and to learn about ourselves.
The fascination of Psychology is that it attempts to understand human beings and what they do, so we are constantly examining our own actions. We often recreate classic experiments to see how people react. One example is when we examined prosocial behaviour to see if people would help a stranger who is in trouble. One of our students pretended to have an accident in our lunch hall while the rest of the students watched a noted down how many people went to help.
One of my IB classes was studying gender and decided that the boys would dress as girls and the girls would dress as boys! We then went over to our primary school to interview the younger children to see what their ideas about gender differences where. Experimenting like this is at the heart of Psychology and we take every opportunity we can at BSB to conduct our own research.
Please click here to read some of Jim's previous articles
Head of Year
Being Head of Year is also very rewarding as each day brings something new. We all have our own personalities and ideas and putting hundreds of people together in one building is always going to lead to interesting things happening and different relationships being formed.
Helping students understand different ways of approaching challenging situations is a really rewarding experience and seeing them take on board advice and finding out what works for them when they encounter difficulties is a really satisfying experience. There is always something to learn and every day is new, fresh and exciting.
After School Activities (ASAs)
I’ve been involved in various different ASAs over the years. Robotics was fun where I helped the students to construct and drive their own robots.
Now I’m married with children, my time for hobbies has dropped considerably. My favourite sport is squash and I try to play at least twice a week. Despite being exhausted when I finish playing, I find that I am constantly learning something new about the game by playing different people with different styles. It is a great mix of power and skill – and can be great to get out any frustrations!
I’ve spent my last two years working towards my Master’s in Psychology and I would actually consider that a hobby as well. Although it is hard work, it is a labour of love because I enjoy everything about Psychology so I am constantly learning new ideas and concepts that I can bring into the classroom.
I’m an avid reader, particularly science fiction, but haven’t been able to read much due to my own studies. I’m also a huge fan of old black & white American comedies such as Laurel & Hardy and Harold Lloyd. One day, I would like to take a pilgrimage to visit the places these classic films were made….but I need to find time first!
Mr. Jim Hartland
Head of Psychology, Head of Year 9
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