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Inside Teaching : October 2010
20 questions* with Brian Caldwell Exactly who was behind one of the most successful flying saucer hoaxes in Victoria? Who was a long distance runner inspired by the great John Landy? Who may single-handedly popularise curling? It’s Brian Caldwell. DAVID RISH uncovers more about the man you thought you knew. www.atra.edu.au | firstname.lastname@example.org 20 QUESTIONS 37 In your role as Managing Director of Educational Transformations, you’re at the forefront of mapping the future directions of schooling in Australia. Just reading the list of seminars, lectures and so on you give each year makes me feel dizzy. We’ll get back to the serious business later in the interview, but for my first question, with apologies, what’s the worst hotel room you’ve ever stayed in? Once on a three week consultancy in a developing nation (unnamed!) I was to be accommodated in a newly built hotel. The walls and floor were concrete; that and a bed. On trying to sleep, I found cockroaches all over me. Have you ever done the rock star thing and, in frustration, tossed a television out of a hotel room window? Nothing like that, but out of the aforementioned hotel next morning I went. So, I threw myself out. Before becoming an academic you were a classroom science teacher. How did you cope with those moments of frustration, annoyance, that occur, I assume, with even the best of teachers? Teaching between 1963 and 1968 in Victoria, conditions for teaching and relationships between teachers and students were different to those experienced now. I just loved classroom teaching. I taught in two schools, one metropolitan and one country high school, not disadvantaged but difficult. It was frustrating to coordinate a lab with 52 students, and no lab assistant. To organise experiments with safety in mind was very difficult. Why science for you? My father was a school principal, but he’d been a science and mathematics teacher and that was one factor. My mother was also a teacher. At Geelong High School I had outstanding teachers and I had a propensity for maths which led me into the field. My high school education was balanced between science and the arts. My passions nowadays reflect that balance. I didn’t consider any field of work apart from teaching. With teaching, the department paid university fees and so on, so people of modest backgrounds could get there. Scholarships could be offered in a targeted way now, especially in the field of maths and science. HECS (Higher Education Contributions Scheme) fees could be waived for talented high school leavers, and a living and accommodation allowance paid. Can you recall something memorably naughty you did as a student? I helped organise one of the most successful flying saucer hoaxes in Victoria. In July of 1957 and