by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Inside Teaching : April 2011
inside teaching | October 2010 REVIEWS 52 My favourite Teacher Edited by Robert Macklin Published by New South ISBN 9 781 742 231 624 RRP $32.95 Reviewed by Steve Holden Readers of Inside Teaching and our ‘My best teacher’ column should find much to like in this anthology of usually short reminiscences on favourite teachers by some well-known Australians as well as some lesser-known ones. As the book’s editor, Robert Macklin, observes in his introduction, My Favourite Teacher collects together observations about teachers and teaching from a disparate bunch, ranging across ‘such improbable bedfellows as Cardinal George Pell and The Chaser’s Julian Morrow, or former finance minister Lindsay Tanner and Liberal front bencher Greg Hunt.’ Macklin has sought contributions from actors, artists, authors and journalists, broadcasters, composers and musicians, fimmakers, lawyers and jurists, politicians and government bureaucrats, and even the Governor General, all in the public eye. Importantly, he’s also sought contributions from teachers and, a nice touch, even six classmates thanking Mr Bain from Temora High School in south-western New South Wales. Given the concept of this book, you rarely get to the nitty gritty of each student’s schooling and the lived qualities of the classrooms of their favourite teachers, but what the book necessarily lacks in depth it more than makes up for in breadth, and that’s the book’s inspiring feature. Predictably, you get Julian Morrow: ‘The Jesuits are famous for the maxim, “Show me a boy at seven, and I’ll show you a potential lawsuit.”’ But unpredictably you also get Cardinal George Pell: ‘My father was not a Catholic and he, unlike my mother, clearly distinguished between Catholics he approved of and others. Once or twice a year he would give me a bottle from our hotel, wrapped in brown paper, to deliver discreetly to his friend (my teacher Br William Theodore O’Malley). I still feel pleased and proud about this regular kindness.’ Also included is our own Wendy Harmer, who writes about her English teacher, Shirley Collins. ‘Mrs Collins read my essays, poetry, all my writings and I can still, some 40 years later, see her signature at the bottom of the page: “Nicely done. When can I see more? S. Collins.” . . . There was nothing I wanted more than for her to read my work and write: “When can I see more?” I hope she sees this.’ The desire by the contributors here to acknowledge the teachers who acknowledged them reinforces the idea, not incidentally, that teaching and learning is a dialogue. In many cases, the contributors here write specifically to say thank you publicly. Public figures like Michael Kirby thank their teachers, ‘now, when most of them are gone from life,’ but nurse Joan O’Callaghan points out that, nursing the dying, she’s often told that the person who changed their life was a teacher. ‘Did you ever thank this teacher?’ she asks them. ‘Regrettably, I never did,’ they answer. Her advice? ‘Seize the moment. Thank the teacher who made a difference in your life.’