In Memory of Mary Hodges, 1930 - 2014

Mary Hodges has passed away on 27th September aged 83. A well known member of the school of Education and a dedicated educator, colleagues have shared their memories of Mary below:



Professor Simon Catling recalls that :

Mary Hodges retired in 1984 from Oxford Polytechnic. I understood that I was appointed as her successor. She was a historian who also taught some geography in primary ITE, while I was a geographer who also taught some history for a couple of years. The Education Department then was small, of around 12 staff! It ran the undergraduate Education Studies and BEd degree courses. The 'sister' Education Development Department ran the PGCE, in-service Certificates and Diplomas and CPD, with about ten staff; there was no MA or PhD work then! Staff in both departments taught across courses in both departments! In 1988 they merged to become the School of Education in the Poly and remained that when it became Brookes.


Nick Swarbrick, a current Programme Lead in the School of Education, shared this testimony:

Mary Hodges as a passionate believer in social justice. Her time in Uganda in the '60s confirmed her convictions around the values and purpose of education, and she was a tireless supporter of children and adult accession education. When she lead the Education Department in Lady Spencer Churchill College as it amalgamated with Oxford Polytechnic, she was passionate about the Teaching and Learning agenda across the institution and was instrumental in appointing Graham Gibbs to look at Teaching and Learning. In her retirement, Mary continued to research and write about Africa, and was glad to encourage the School of Education in its project to work with schools and trainee teachers in the Gambia.

Family, friends and colleagues from all the areas of her life gathered on Thursday 8th October to say a sad farewell to someone whose energy and expertise will be sorely missed. She was described in the sermon and eulogy as a "mighty woman," a fitting tribute to someone whose life was characterised by action to make the world a better place. A "life of consequence," indeed.


A card of condolence was presented to Mary's family at her funeral on behalf of Mary Wild, Head of School of Education, which recorded "gratitude and appreciation for Mary's role in establishing us as a leading institution in teacher education".


Dr. John Brooks contributed the following in Mary's memory:


I first met Mary when I joined the Lady Spencer-Churchill College of Higher Education at its new Wheatley campus as an Assistant Lecturer in History in 1967. She was my immediate colleague for the next 12 years, and I learned a great deal from her. In 1967 she was appointed Head of History, a post she held with enthusiasm and drive. Mary was passionate about teaching and learning. Not surprisingly given her previous work in Uganda, Mary was keen to introduce all prospective teachers to the subject of world history, and she wrote school textbooks on such themes. She also embraced with typical energy the new school teaching approach of resource-based learning, ensuring that all History’s resources were catalogued to make them readily available to students on teaching practice. As a senior member of the College, Mary was closely involved in the process of merger with Oxford Polytechnic, formally achieved in January 1976. For such an able person who would clearly have flourished long-term in the bigger setting of the Polytechnic, early retirement due to ill health in the mid 1980s was very unfortunate, but Mary reinvented herself to great effect. She worked regularly for Rewley House, where she developed courses in IT and History, and successfully ran local history project groups for many years, in places such as Thame and Woodstock. She also achieved high academic standards in her own historical research, as evidenced for example by her ‘Aspects of Recusancy in Oxfordshire..’, Oxoniensia (2007), 1-8. Mary was a lifelong friend of me and my family. It was a privilege to know her.

History alumna Rhona Macfarlane '71 memories of her former teacher:
In the autumn of 1968 I sat in the Main Hall at Lady Spencer Churchill College listening to Mary Hodges deliver a lecture to the first year students on the subject of the Indus Valley Civilisation. At that time I barely knew where the Indus Valley was let alone anything about a civilisation. At the end of an hour and a half I was enthralled and this lecture was to prove pivotal in my later career. That was the key to Mary Hodges success as a teacher - she could make history come alive. On another occasion describing the Moors' fiscal sophistication during the European dark Ages she said "They were writing cheques. Can you imagine Alfred the Great or Charlemagne writing cheques?" 
Mary Hodges didn't just teach me history, she taught me about history and most importantly how to be a historian. As she inspired me I have tried to pass on to the young people I have taught the enthusiasm, love of the subject and the skills that Mary developed in me.



The Oxford Mail published an obituary here to commemorate Mary's life.