Life before Girton
I first commenced teaching at the University of New England as a Tutor in the History Department, before taking up a teaching position in Sydney in 1969 at Canley Vale High School. In between expanding my family to four children, I continued to teach in the Government sector until 1981 when I commenced a position at Parramatta Marist Brothers, where I taught for a further five years. My family and I then moved to Bendigo where I was offered a position at Girton College in 1987 and then a position at Girton Grammar School in 1993. I hold a B.A. (Hons), Dip.Ed. (New England) and a M.Ed. Cert Prof St Ed (Melb).
What I Love about Teaching
I believe it is a privilege to bring a love of learning, the excitement of discovery and the thrill of conquering new skills to students. When my students’ eyes light up, when they show excitement because they can see improvement in their work and when we share laughter in the classroom, these are always the special moments I love in teaching. Teaching at Girton is special also because we have such delightful young people – happy, involved and eager to see success. We are also fortunate to have exceptional resources at our hands to bring our lessons to life.
What do you like best about the subject you teach?
History is the narrative of human beings. It tells the story of people: some who were destined to lead lives of poverty; some who had greatness thrust upon them at significant moments in History; others who were born into wealth and privilege and others who challenged the nature of the societies in which they found themselves. In History we discover how these people, coming from different socio-economic and political positions, reacted to the circumstances which unfolded during their lives. My subject deals with two momentous events – the Russian and Chinese Revolutions. These great panoramas of History are immensely interesting in their own right, but the skills students learn – those of critical thinking, of balanced historical judgement and the need to provide evidence for the opinions expressed – are skills which can be applied to all subjects at school, or to all processes in later life.
My favourite classroom activity
I believe the favourite activity of my students is when we truly engage in the period we are studying. We role play different situations by imagining how particular historical figures or groups of people may have reacted to the different events or crises they faced; we challenge each other in debates, testing each other’s interpretations of these events or crises. We make History come alive. In this way students start to feel true empathy for these historical figures and the decisions they had to make. They also realise that History is not a mere recitation of dry facts and dates. Once you can get into the heart and the way of thinking of the leaders or the groups involved in an historical event, it makes logical sense and thus it is much easier for students to understand how an event unfolded and therefore the inevitable consequences of that event.
What difference can good teaching make?
Successful students, first and foremost, enjoy the subject they have chosen. They throw themselves wholeheartedly into the coursework and they enjoy completing the set work and the additional reading involved in developing a sophisticated understanding of the work being studied. They share willingly and generously of their knowledge with others; in doing so they deepen their own understanding of the concepts involved. I believe that my strong organizational skills, along with my passion for History and bringing the past to life, draw students into a true enjoyment of the subject. We work hard in my classroom, but we also have a lot of laughter and shared enjoyment in our journey together.
As Deputy Head I do not run a formal co-curricular activity, but I can always be found at the many Music and Drama performances at School. I love the Performing Arts programme at Girton. It is such a varied one and one which brings great colour and richness into the lives of our students. One of my main roles is to organise many of the formal events in our School calendar such as: our annual Foundation Day Service; the Last Day activities for Year 12 students (a Church Service, Luncheon with parents and a Final Assembly); the Valedictory Dinner; our Services of Carols and Speech Night. Outside of school my passions are reading, listening to classical music and spending as much time as I can with my small grandchildren.