Dikran Tahta, Mathematics Teacher

Dikran Tahta, Mathematics Teacher

“Thanks to Mr. Tahta, I became a professor of Mathematics at Cambridge...I have spent my life attempting to unlock the mysteries of the universe. When each of us thinks about what we can do in life, chances are we can do it because of a teacher.” - Stephen Hawking

Who he was

Dikran Tahta is not famous for a body of work or an invention; he is famous for being an inspiration to greatest physicist to live since Albert Einstein: Stephen Hawking. 

Born in England, Tahta was the son of emigrants from the Republic of Turkey who left in 1927, a few years after the Armenian Genocide. After university and time in the British national service, he became a mathematics teacher at the St. Albans School in England, one of the oldest schools in the world. 

It was at St. Albans where Tahta taught Stephen Hawking, his most famous pupil. Hawking later admitted to not being the best student, but he appreciated the openness of Tahta’s class to intellectual exploration - as well as the class not being “boring,” as other classes were.

Hawking would go on to credit Tahta as the reason why he became mathematics professor at Cambridge University, which, he notes, was a position once held by Isaac Newton. 

In addition to his pedagogical pursuits, Tahta was also an author. One of the last books penned by him was titled “Ararat Associations.” 

Interesting fact

Though not a professional academic, Tahta had many scholarly interests and published several books on topics including amateur Victorian mathematicians.

Learn more about him

Stephen Hawking On The Teacher That Changed His Life - #TeachersMatter

Stephen Hawking remembers best teacher - BBC