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Armenian Innovation

Apr 25, 2017

#WhyArmenia: Dikran Tahta

“Behind every exceptional person, there is an exceptional teacher”, said Stephen Hawking when talking about his favorite teacher, Dikran Tahta.

During the Global Teacher Prize ceremony in 2016, a video message of Stephen Hawking came ahead of the announcement of the winner. In this video, he was talking about his favorite teacher, Dikran Tahta. So who was the man who inspired the great Hawking?

Born in Manchester in 1928, Tahta grew up in an Armenian family that worked in textile. Although he is famous for being a mathematics teacher, he was fond of literature, philosophy and history. Between leaving university and before national service, he catalogued the library of the late Archbishop Matheos Indjeian, and read a number of his books for the first time. He started teaching English and history in Rossal school in 1954, and gradually moved to teaching mathematics. Tahta then started teaching in St Albans school, where Stephen Hawking was his pupil. Hawking was greatly influenced by Tahta, he said: "His classes were lively and exciting. Everything could be debated. Together we built my first computer, it was made with electro-mechanical switches.”

Tahta also taught in universities: Saint Luke’s College and the University of Exeter. In the 1970s he was involved in the ATV television program of mathematics for schools entitled 'Leapfrogs' and promoted visual approaches to mathematics.

After retirement, he went to teach in the United States and South Africa, and became a tutor for the Open University.

"Thanks to Mr Tahta, I became a professor of mathematics at Cambridge, a position once held by Isaac Newton”, said Hawking. Therefore, we must always remember: teachers matter.