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Inside Teaching : October 2010
Inside Teaching | October 2010 20 QUESTIONS 38 March of 1958 there were reports of flying saucers over Geelong and the surrounding area. This involved a large number of senior students. It became particularly ‘naughty’ when on the second night, a number of us used teachers’ names when we phoned in our reports and the next morning they read of their ‘misdeeds’ in the Geelong Advertiser. We understood the air force base at nearby Avalon Airfield sent up a plane to check out the flying saucers. The hoax helped us develop planning skills, creative thinking, communication and media skills, but we do kind of regret using the teachers’ names. It happens to be the 100th anniversary of the founding of Geelong High School and a journalist is chasing up the details now. There are sportspeople who are naturally talented, and others who work to achieve success: Is there such a thing as a naturally gifted teacher? What needs to be done to keep a teacher evolving and growing over a career? I don’t think there are born teachers. The capacity one has in terms of teaching skills comes from your growing environment and preparation as well as support in the profession. This support can be ongoing learning and development. Also a teacher should have a wide range of experiences and have the opportunity to teach in different settings. International travel is important. I taught and studied in Canada for 13 years and that experience was transforming in terms of my future work and ideas with respect to teaching. A teacher should have a large range of interests and a willingness to work in different settings. Looking at folk going into teaching, a large percentage who have worked in other fields bring that life experience to their work. It is different for students who go straight from school into teaching. Is there a sports team you’d have loved to be a member of? My main sport was athletics. I dabbled in long-distance running and had aspirations to be a really good runner. I had inspirational folk around. In 1956, when I was in Year 11, the Geelong Guild Amateur Athletic Club had six members in the Olympic team, including Don Macmillan and John Landy. John Landy put it in my head that I could be a very good middle-distance runner. He was a fine role model, and a teacher at Geelong Grammar School. Don Macmillan was also a teacher and successful middle- distance runner. I dropped out at uni but later on became a very slow marathon runner. Can you come up with a slogan to spruik the profession? Change the world. What are two of your passions outside of education? Arts and sports. My wife and I are really avid theatre goers. Concerts of the classical kind, jazz, and visual things: all are really strong for me. With sport, aside from my long distance running, I’m a spectator. You can’t afford not to be a Geelong Football Club supporter growing up in Geelong. We’re also Melbourne Victory members – the whole family. Can you tell me about a teacher who really inspired you as a school boy? One outside my school was John Landy, previously mentioned, who was doing great things like breaking the four-minute mile. In Years 11 and 12 I had a gifted physics teacher, Alan Cracknell, and similarly gifted maths teacher, Ian Tyler. Without their quality teaching I don’t think I could have succeeded at uni level. Their teaching was organised and well-planned. They explained things in simple terms. They set and expected high standards. Tom Moore was another; my history teacher at Geelong High School. He built for me a love of history. You can’t do much in planning the future without a deep understanding of the past. Who was a particular mentor during your early teaching? Mentoring wasn’t around even informally when I began