Homage to Ted Organ - Brighton Technical College

Jim Riley

29th November 2009

For no particular reason, an homage to Ted.

Ted Organ was the guy who first taught me Sociology. It took place on a part-time O Level class at Brighton Technical College in 1981. If anyone can put me in touch with Ted - if, as I hope, he is still around, just contact me via T2U.

I was naive and idealistic and had just dropped out of university. I didn’t know anything about Sociology, but I’d heard a bit about it, so I tried Ted’s course. It was a revelation; suddenly the world of the late 70s and early 80s all made sense; I had a framework in which everything could be analysed. No doubt the Ofsted inspectors would not approve of Ted’s teaching style. It was all very much talk - Ted’s - and a bit of chalk. Not much room for student activities. Of course, there are those who might say that I might have been a better learner and even a better teacher, if Ted had used more active methods. But for me, at the time - and even now with the benefit of hindsight - it seemed right. We used Butterworth and Weir’s book of readings and a little book by Denis Lawton - Investigating Society I think it was called. Then there were these handouts from Ted - always in his tortuous handwriting, but full of good stuff, plus the Society Matters pages copied from New Society. It was Ted who got me reading that great magazine. I’m not exaggerating, I think, when I say that I probably learnt as much reading New Society as I did on my university Sociology course.

Ted made Sociology interesting - for me at least - not by fancy activities, but just simply by speaking and making you think, read, reflect and write. And I wish that some or indeed, most, of my university lecturers had Ted’s ability to precis, select and present in a clear and understandable manner and a desire to be understood.

Ted was a talented man; he’d done a BA in English at one of the London University colleges and then done a degree in Sociology somewhere or other. He made learning and the acquistion of knowledge seem fun and worthwhile. I guess I became a pale version of him - well, at least, I too became a lecturer in FE and later at a sixth form college. I can also see with the benefit of hindsight, that there must have been some huge frustrations in the job for Ted; it isn’t necessarily that glamorous once you’ve been doing it a while.

It sort of irritates me that I never thanked him at the time. Perhaps I should have done law and gone and got myself a higher paying job. But Ted - wherever you are - thanks a million. You made it interesting and you got it right. Thanks.

Jim Riley

Jim co-founded tutor2u alongside his twin brother Geoff! Jim is a well-known Business writer and presenter as well as being one of the UK's leading educational technology entrepreneurs.

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