Scientist Stephen Hawking has paid tribute to the teacher who inspired his early steps into scholarship, the BBC reports.
He says Dikran Tahta at St Albans School opened his eyes to maths, which he describes as the “blueprint of the universe”.
“My handwriting was bad, and I could be lazy. Many teachers were boring. Not Mr Tahta,” said the physicist.
Prof Hawking was speaking ahead of this weekend’s award of the Global Teacher Prize.
The award-winning scientist has recorded a video commending his teacher, who died in 2006.
“His classes were lively and exciting. Everything could be debated. Together we built my first computer, it was made with electro-mechanical switches,” said Prof Hawking.
“Thanks to Mr Tahta, I became a professor of mathematics at Cambridge, a position once held by Isaac Newton.”
Prof Hawking said that “behind every exceptional person, there is an exceptional teacher”.
Dikran Tahta’s family settled in Manchester after the Armenian Genocide. Much of his childhood, and the influence of his Armenian religious upbringing, is reflected upon in his penultimate book Ararat Associations, in which he notes how his parents were keen for their children to have an English education, yet made sure that they spoke Armenian at home. He was christened by Bishop Tourian in the Armenian Church in Manchester, and his name Dikran was shortened to Dick, but he never forgot his Armenian roots.