Oral history of British science

Coombs, Mary (Part 7 of 9). An Oral History of British Science.

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  • Subjects

    Computer Software

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home

  • Interviewees

    Coombs, Mary, 1929- (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 7: Further comments on work with Steve Shirley: Ministry of Health project on hospital design that didn't go ahead; chiefly involved with examining design equipment, such as plotters at Imperial College; having a chat more than an interview; friend's husband not being able to tell them that SS wasn't getting the contract. [03:04] Remarks on not working for three years due partly to problems finding childcare. Remarks on teaching at Godstowe Prep School for five terms, attending teacher training at Lady Spencer Churchill College as she did not have a teaching qualification. [05:12] Remarks on teaching special needs children at a Wycombe School, story about disagreement with head over a child she told off for shoplifting. Remarks on qualifying in 1976, doing supply teaching due to shortage of full time vacancies until finding a job in Frieth School. [09:21] Comments on Frieth School: good methods of headmaster, Ted Carpenter who she split class with; teaching English and maths, [11:42] singing with BBC radio programmes for schools, music and movement; benefits and drawbacks of individual teaching. [14:15] Remarks on enjoying teaching at Frieth until she had to leave due to falling rolls. Remarks on not enjoying working in subsequent school so much: unsuitable overcrowded class, difficult class, difficulties with head; deciding to leave teaching. [17:19] Remarks on: having originally wanted to teach when she went to university, helping other children with homework when she was young, teaching the recorder. [19:35] Comments on Lady Spencer Churchill College: pleasant year; course elements seeming unnecessary given time constraints, such as history of education; varied course content; placements in Watlington, where she did a project on Aborigines, and Stokenchurch; morning rush to commute to college. [25:10] Description of Lady Spencer Churchill College, now part of Oxford Brookes, with remarks on course mates. Remarks on: a video exercise at the end of the course, busy timetable, mixed backgrounds of children in schools, such as travellers, air force children, middle classes. [29:38] Description of school at Frieth: redbrick Victorian, used village hall for activities, housing for headmaster; remarks on Cadmore End school where MC's children went and she assisted for a time. Further remarks on Frieth: book and equipment, fondness of headmaster for chess, few extra curricular activities, teachers, not classroom assistants. [35:06] Further remarks on teaching: books used, children working well individually, freedom from national curriculum, influence of David Caminer on her grammar. [37:52] Remarks on being expected to behave properly at LEO, not wearing trousers to work as her father did not approve of women in trousers. [39:20] Comments on corporal punishment and discipline in school. Remarks on sharing the class with a head. [41:48] Remarks on life outside work: regular Church attendance, organist; interest in music; short of money and busy with children; Church fund-raising activities; Whist; [45:15] country life; family holidays abroad only from the mid 1980s; television, inheriting their first Baird television from husband's father; remarks on husband going to rifle club, evening classes and rowing; teaching evening classes herself. [48:33] Comments on children: Andrew: very bright but lacking in self confidence, worked for Johnson and Johnson until his divorce, recently broken ankle, daughter; [51:43] Paul: active sportsman, builder, cyclist, frequent sports accidents, divorced, 7 year old [Closed between 56:57 - 59:15] Remarks on being a parent, influence of her strict father. Remarks on hopes for children: expected Andrew to be good at maths; Paul bright; Gill appeared more confident than she was. Remarks coming from a generation that was expected to get married and have children. [1:02:56] Comments on mother Ruth: dutiful wife, blossomed after husband's death, older than husband, limited independence. Remarks MC moving to Switzerland to become independent.

  • Description

    Interview with computer programmer Mary Coombs.

  • Related transcripts

    Mary Coombs interviewed by Tom Lean: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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