Life before Girton
- Worked on a Bio-Dynamic peach farm (first job)
- Worked on a tomato farm
- Was a plumber’s labourer
- Undertook tertiary education at Latrobe University Bendigo (Bachelor of Arts (Hons.), Grad. Dip. (Secondary Education)
What I Love about Teaching
The two most rewarding aspects of being a teacher are the many intellectual challenges and the dynamic interaction you have with other minds (students and colleagues). I love having to refine and revise my own understanding of subjects and topics in order to teach the knowledge and skills associated with these to students. Equally rewarding is the academic dialogue that you have with students through classroom instruction and activities: there is nothing quite like seeing students ‘get’ or understand an idea or develop a particular skill; to know that you played an essential part in this is one of the great privileges of the profession.
What do you like best about the subject/s you teach?
Language is the basis of thought and subsequently of all academic pursuits. Teaching students how to effectively communicate their ideas empowers them to pursue knowledge and understanding in other subject areas and develop general academic excellence. As the great English poet and playwright Ben Jonson said ‘Neither can his Mind be thought to be in Tune, whose words do jarre; nor his reason in frame, whose sentence is preposterous…’ I also love teaching students literature to give them an opportunity to appreciate how language can be used in a beautiful way to give an insight into the human condition.
Studying politics gives students the means to participate in the political processes of our nation in an educated manner. To slightly modify and paraphrase something Plato said about political participation, if we take no interest in politics we run the risk of being ruled by our inferiors. What better reason than this is there to study politics?
My favourite classroom activity
In the Politics classroom, one of my favourite activities is class discussion. I usually conduct a discussion after some time spent studying a political concept with students. Students are given the opportunity to voice their own thoughts and opinions on the matter and hear those of others. It is wonderful to see the diversity of opinion and the intellectual jousting that occurs when students try to defend their point of view when challenged by fellow students or myself. It gives the students the chance to gauge their level of understanding against their peers, and to justify and often modify of refine their point of view.
What difference can good teaching make?
I think that good teachers convey their enthusiasm for a subject and encourage their students to develop a respect for learning and a desire to understand the human condition and the world around them. Good teaching and teachers have certainly had such an effect on me, and this certainly informs much of what I try to do in the classroom. As a Humanities teacher I think that good teaching should lead to students wanting to cultivate their humanity (the virtues), to develop what Aristotle called arete (excellence of character). A good student knows his strengths and weaknesses, and is not hesitant to seek the guidance and advice of others when necessary.
I manage the Girton Rubies basketball team, and have enjoyed watching their development as a team over the last two years.
When I get the opportunity I read: history, philosophy, theology and literature. I am also making slow progress learning Latin (a most rewarding and challenging enterprise!). I enjoy spending time with my wife and children, and cultivating my humble vegetable patch.