“Significant detail”

Published by Tony Quinlan on

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while.  Just before Christmas, I found myself back in Wimbledon for the memorial service of Richard Milward, a history teacher at my old school.  I was never taught by him (history and I having parted ways at the age of 14), nor can I recall ever having had any conversations with him, but I have an abiding impression of him as embodying the spirit of the school fully, even if it rarely matched my experience of it.

Fiercely intelligent, yet compassionate and understanding, I could easily see why those friends who were taught by him were so loyal.  In the sciences that I followed, Doc Holt and Jonathan Cave inspired my loyalty, while Tony Poole did the same for more pastoral care in the sixth form.

But I was mildly surprised at the service and again in the obituary here, to see him talking about history in ways that mirror my own soapbox and passion in communication today:

He would impress on boys that every point they made in an essay needed an example. “When they opened up Mary Tudor after her death,” he would say, “they found ‘Calais’ engraved on her heart. When I die they’ll find ‘significant detail’ engraved on mine.”

Bulletpoints? Pah!  Significant detail everytime.