Local pupil comes top in international history exam

2008-06-02 00:00

Grace College applauded loudly when Jonathon Stein’s 2007 Cambridge IGCSE History result was announced in assembly recently.

Jonathon (17) was the top history candidate, not only in Africa, but in the world.

So who is this 17-year-old, Grade 11 history whiz and what makes him tick? English teacher Antoinette Beck said Jonathon is a typical teenager who loves computer games and talks gigabytes, memory cards and RAM with his friends at break.

“What makes him different, however, is his love of films and reading and his interest in art and design, architecture in particular.

“He is vitally interested in history, politics and philosophy and in the world in general,” said Beck.

Jonathon is a lapsed musician, having been a member of the Pietermaritzburg Youth Choir and a violinist in his younger days, who now finds the lure of the written word stronger. In his spare time, he proofreads novels for Chatto & Windus publishers.

Jonathon writes prolifically and this year was one of the four winners of the Time of the Writer schools competition.

He has now started writing his own novel, a murder mystery set in post-war Berlin, and has also been honoured by the English Academy of South Africa.

Jonathon attributes his success in the history examinations to his history teacher, Fran Pallett.

He says he had no interest in history until he was drawn into the subject by Pallett’s “dynamic teaching”.

His tips for other history pupils are to “get interested in the subject and try to understand how everything is connected”.

He is motivated to find out as much as he can about how things came about and is a keen observer of politics, said Beck.

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