An octogenarian with a passion for teaching won't let anything stand in the way of her mission to educate— not even retirement.
Irene Basham has taught children for nearly 70 of her 89 years, first entering an elementary class at Farfield Primary School in Bradford, England, in 1947.
“I have always loved teaching children and I love to be with them,” Basham told SWNS-TV.
She remained at the same school until her retirement in 1992, but the energetic educator could not settle into a life without teaching.
So when her grandson’s head teacher asked her to help out in her classroom, Basham jumped at the chance.
“I was at my grandson's Christmas play and was telling the head teacher how much I missed the children,” she told the television station. “She offered me the chance to go in and help out and I have been there ever since.”
Basham works with children on their “three R’s” one day a week at Pool Church of England Primary School in Leeds, West Yorkshire.
She believes her age gives her an advantage with the students.
“They talk to you and if you sit and listen to them while they are reading they tell you little bits, like whether they are worried or frightened by anything,” she said. “Because I'm older they feel they can tell me more. I think they think I was about when dinosaurs were walking around."
The grandmother-of-three spends time with each individual child in the class of 30. It's time she said is well-spent since she believes the education system undervalues reading and writing.
“The kids get really excited by learning about the world and language and I love to see that,” she said of the 5, 6 and 7 year olds she teaches. “I think they try and teach children too much too soon now — they don't give them any time to assimilate information.”
Basham graduated with her teaching certificate from Furzedown Teachers' Training College in London in 1945.
She married her late husband, John, two years later and gave birth to her daughter Susan in 1964.
Though she relies on her 53-year-old daughter to drives her to her weekly lessons, Basham is otherwise in great health.
“I walk about a lot and have no real ailments and I keep myself mentally alert,” she said. “There is no great secret to it — I have never been a big drinker apart from a few Sherries with the family and I eat lots of fruit and vegetables. My family don't think it's surprising at all that I still teach - it's what I have always done.”