John Gardner at Home

Memories from Josh Pike

Dear John,

I'm sorry that it's taken me this long to write. Just in case the last discrimination seminar doesn't go ahead next week, I just wanted to say thank you for being such an incredible supervisor and for teaching me so much. And not just about the law! My housemates have for a while now (affectionately, I hope) banned me from "reasons-talk", whereas before I met you I was as sceptical as any a typical undergrad of anything that came close to what might be called morality.

And I'll always remember the first time I met you: with Tony, in the Law and the State seminar. I was terrified. The way in which you could take a sentence and derive so much from it was incredible. Terror quickly turned to awe, however, as I realised you were also one of the kindest teachers I'd met in Oxford, using that skill to make every student feel like they'd contributed something valuable. I've lost count of the number of times that I've said something mediocre (at best), only for you to turn it into something brilliant, like some philosophical alchemist!

I realised that, in a way, you've been teaching me since I first came to Oxford six years ago. First through your students--Maris and James--then you yourself as my supervisor. A testament to one of the more humbling things you ever said to me: that if you want to make a difference as an academic, you do it through your teaching and not your writing. Of course, you've been phenomenally successful at both!

I'll try my best, however, to be good at the first, and to teach others what you've taught me: how to think, and how to find those grains of truth.

All my best,