I met Tom when I supervised him for some revision sessions for the 1830 – to the present day paper of Cambridge University’s English Tripos. From these meetings it was obvious that he was one of the most talented English students in his year, a conclusion that was borne out by the first class degree result that he obtained in both part one and part two of the Tripos. Having worked as a supervisor for well over a dozen Cambridge colleges, and a director of studies at both Girton (2007–08) and Newnham (currently), I have encountered a large number of intelligent and able students. Tom's essays and verbal contributions marked him out as one of the most outstanding students with whom I have worked: he is especially well-read in English drama and poetry from the Renaissance to the present day. After his undergraduate studies he went on to take the Cambridge MPhil in Renaissance literature.
Since graduating from Cambridge Tom has acquired considerable experience in various domains of teaching including Shakespeare courses for University of California Undergraduates, English as a Foreign Language for Japanese students, and private tutoring in English literature for GCSE and A-level candidates.
During the Cambridge long vacation I am the course convener of, and lecturer for, two Shakespeare summer schools organized by Pembroke College, Cambridge. Prior to my involvement with these courses the college had independently asked Tom to teach on one of them and, when I joined the summer school in 2009, the two of us co–taught a course entitled ‘“The Play’s the Thing…Staging Shakespeare”’. While I delivered eight lectures, Tom had entire responsibility for taking 15 or so students, divided into two groups, for roughly sixteen seminars. The course was a great success and, while his theatre commitments prevented him from taking part in the 2010 course, both I and the course administrators are hoping that will able to fulfill a similar role in 2011. The students, who had widely varying academic levels, found him an inspiring, patient and very helpful teacher. He prepared all the material thoroughly and had a good sense of how to employ heuristic educational techniques: circulating questions in advance, tailoring material to the level of the group, reformulating questions for those who encountered difficulties.
Tom has also been heavily involved in the summer school’s English as a Foreign Language courses. While I am not directly involved with these aspects of the summer school, I know that he was highly popular with his Japanese students and that the college would be delighted if he could participate in future courses.
As well as the large group teaching that he undertook for our Shakespeare course, Tom also has experience in giving one to one tuition to GCSE and A–level candidates. This teaching experience has made him adept at giving constructive feedback and encouragement to his students. As a highly sensitized reader of texts he is expert at inculcating an awareness of form, verbal structure, and literary techniques. I recommend him to you in the strongest possible terms.