Staff Spotlight - Dr Giles Watson

Dr Giles Watson, Teacher

We would like to introduce Dr Giles Watson, an English teacher who joined GSG in 2015.

What do you enjoy most about teaching English?

I most enjoy the moment when there is a creative spark which seems to suddenly ignite and transmit itself around the classroom. It is almost always unexpected. Sometimes, it happens when we read a text, and a student comes out with an insight which seems to make everything fall into place, and I can look around the room and see this spark of realisation in everyone’s eyes. Other times, we might all be working on separate creative projects, but suddenly everyone is totally engaged, as if something in the atmosphere has changed. These moments can be sparked by some words from a poem, or a painting, or even just a chance remark. It’s thrilling because that creative moment is where we realise our common humanity.It happened most recently in my Year 11 Literature class after we had been reading some poems inspired by sea creatures. We were getting really hot inside our masks, so we went outside, and found ourselves on the shores of Oyster Harbour. And instead of everyone trying to throw stones at the big orange pole, my students were crouching down, gazing at crabs, uttering words of wonder. One student actually apologised to a sea snail for prodding it with her finger. It was a totally unplanned moment of creative reverence, and it resulted in new poems.

Do you have a passion project beyond teaching?

When I am not teaching, I’m either writing, playing with the dogs or walking - sometimes all three together. I feel that I haven’t really had a complete day if I haven’t written something. The result has been a little shelf full of books of poems, and a stage musical, Mimma: A Musical of War and Friendship, for which I wrote the libretto. My friend Ron Siemiginowski wrote the music. It had its premiere in 2019, and then there was COVID. Now, we have a gala concert performance of it, about to happen in Cadogan Hall, Chelsea London. So, at the moment, my passion project often involves contacting London to find out what David Suchet (of Poirot fame) has been doing in rehearsals, since he is our narrator. If you’re into West End musicals, we’ve got quite a dizzyingly famous cast, and the delightful thing is that their enthusiasm for the show is so heartfelt. You can read more about the musical here: https://bit.ly/3Hgn0DK

If you could, what would you most like to change in the world?

Oh, gosh. Where to start? I’d like to reverse the process of mass extinction, and to stop wars. Just a tad ambitious, probably. So, here’s a quieter goal: I’d like to build a culture that encourages people to slow down and observe, to really be present in this world, to listen, to take the time to feel and empathise with our fellow creatures, to make room for difference. Then people might be less inclined to join cliques, to judge others without understanding them. That might sound like nothing more than “stop and smell the roses”, but I think it goes deeper than that. It’s about putting a higher value on life - about not being so consumed by a whirlwind of “goals” and “objectives” that we forget to be amazed when an endangered, migratory monarch butterfly crosses our path. And actually, that might help to stop wars and mass extinction after all.

Dr Giles Watson, Great Southern Grammar