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Inside Teaching : June 2011
www.atra.edu.au | firstname.lastname@example.org 20 QUESTIONS 43 fulfilment. I was good at English, but not at maths or much else. I cruised through without much distinction. Teachers have commented that I was good at writing. It happened from early on. I used to make cards and cartoons, and at school I’d write song parodies to entertain my friends in the back row. In class I wrote what teachers would want to read. I had a couple of voices, even then, one for teachers and one for me. Can you tell me about a teacher who inspired you? I had a great English teacher, Mr Bechervaise. He was good because he had written and published some poetry. He made short films, directed the school play and edited the magazine. He actively modelled involvement and this had a profound effect. What he did rather than what he said went deep. He encouraged me. ‘Griff,’ he said, ‘you can write better stuff than most kids spilling blood on paper but you never bother finishing stuff.’ He encouraged me by identifying my talent. Oh, and he also introduced me to The Catcher in the Rye. What was your best asset as a teacher? Probably my enthusiasm for creative writing. It was infectious. I’d have my students writing all sorts of different stories and formats because I was actively writing and sharing it with them. Would you ever follow John Marsden’s lead and set up your own school, and who would you get in to inspire your students? God, no! As much as I admire what John’s done in following his passion for education, my passion is for entertainment and humour. I’d rather perfect my craft. I’d get in anyone who was enthusiastic about what they did – a pest control expert or someone from the arts, people from lots of different fields. We’ve all got talents. I like people who are excited and don’t just grind through. People should find what they love, not what will make them money or prestige. If you had remained a teacher for 30 years do you think you could have maintained a generosity towards your students? Yeah, I do because it’s kind of natural with me. I like kids. I like to share my enthusiasm for reading and writing. For laughter. For taking imaginations on a walk. I was a natural teacher, but the writing urge was stronger. I could create writing that was fun and exciting, and that realisation made me back away from that teacher role. I still teach, but not in the classroom. I really admire long-term teachers who still have passion and talent and are still shining. I’d never have wanted to become jaded. What thing about you are your parents most proud of? I think they’re proud of my writing. While they don’t necessarily get all of the humour, they’re very proud of the effect on kids and their parents who give them feedback. What’s the best present you were given as a child? I always remember my purple dragster. That bike had a big effect on me. It gave me the freedom to ride around the streets and to go down to the creek, away from parental supervision. Who would it be cooler to be, Andy Griffiths, Nick Cave or Jonathan Brown from the Brisbane Lions? God, I don’t know how to answer that. I’m a lifelong fan of Nick Cave, and the Lions. I saw Nick Cave in The Birthday Party when the band was at the height of its powers and that was life changing. What I got from Nick Cave was to be myself and to put my own voice out there, to follow my own vision to the end of the line and not pull back. Do you prefer to wash or dry the dishes? Probably dry them, out of the dishwasher. Jill, my wife and editor, does most of the cooking and I do the cleaning out at the end of it. What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done? I’m probably the wrong person to ask. Valentine’s Day mystifies me. Why would you express your love on only one day? I do it every day, not necessarily grand gestures but I’m always looking for ways to revitalise the relationship. Lisa is the girl I was in love with in Grade