Babiche Deysel

Episode 121,  Oct 07, 2021, 11:14 PM

My guest this week is Babiche Deysel, Executive Headteacher at Petham Primary School in Kent. Originally from the Netherlands, Babiche lived and worked for many years in Zimbabwe and Botswana.

In Zimbabwe she studied the economic impact of projects run by a women's group and she discusses the way in which one doesn’t always realize how bad things are in a country which, as she points out, is very different from the country where she got married, until one steps outside of it. Babiche talks about her experience of living in houses surrounded by barbed wire and of friends being attacked.

Born in the Hague, Babiche talks about experiences which have made her and her family stronger and about the ways in which we are inclined to look back through the past with a rose coloured lens but in which there were adversities we had to overcome. She talks about her experience of Christmas during the pandemic and how boundaries were woolly during lockdown.

She remembers from childhood driving to Spain or Italy and listening to Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton and Van Morrison on a loop and enjoying the sounds of Radio Caroline.

In those days there was information to which we did not have access, which is all very different from today, and we learn that Babiche brought all her records back with her from Zimbabwe to Botswana but that they didn’t make the journey to the UK.

We find out how Babiche ended up accidentally working as a teacher. When she was young she wanted to be a ballerina, she studied Social Educational Care at undergraduate level and then did a Masters in Pedagogy. When she was in Africa she ended up working in the fashion industry as a menswear buyer where people would get worked up about, say, the colour of a drawstring and she thought there was more to life. She then embarked on a teaching degree through the University of South Africa.

Babiche talks about why it’s important for a teacher to have a broader experience than just what happens in the classroom. Teachers who are parents themselves also have a better understanding of the job. We discover whether there were any teachers who especially inspired her and we talk about why it can be easier to be a teacher than a pupil. We move on to talk about teaching in situations that one couldn’t anticipate, and how children will always tell the truth. 

We learn that Babiche used to write letters from Zimbabwe and she has a portfolio of letters sent to her grandmother.

Then, at the end of the interview, we discuss whether it is possible to find good experiences out of horrendous times, and we talk about how we used to be in touch with people in the days before social media.

Please note: Opinions expressed are solely those of Chris Deacy and Babiche Deysel and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the University of Kent.