Dr Andrew Itter

Life before Girton

I first studied a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities, before completing honours and receiving the DM Myers award for most outstanding achievement at undergraduate level at La Trobe University, Bendigo in 1999. I then finished a PhD in Ancient Pedagogy and Early Christian Platonism, later published as a reference book called the Esoteric Teaching in the Stromateis of Clement of Alexandria in 2009. I also completed a Diploma of Education in Secondary teaching in 2003. During my time at university I lectured and tutored in Literature, Philosophy and Western Traditions.

Prior to studying I played in a rock band, travelled through Britain for a year doing various jobs from working in a public house to managing the Belfast Youth Hostel. I have done many jobs, from selling electrical goods to working in a bank, and also driving small trucks as a delivery man in Melbourne.

What I Love about Teaching

I love when students become passionately engaged in the history of ideas, which all of a sudden can become illuminated for new a generation of thinker. Ideas have sparked revolutions, brought to life great pieces of art, influenced the faith of millions, and touched the heart of one; they should not remain as obscure doctrines relegated to a dead past, but made alive and new for those who seek knowledge. I therefore also love it when students begin to write in a mature and sophisticated manner, and learn to express themselves with discernment and vigour, informed by some of the world’s most enduring ideas.

What do you like best about the subject/s you teach?

Humans are story-telling animals as much as anything. We love a good tale and our long history of writing fiction, from the Ancient Greek epics to Harry Potter, is testimony to this fascination. We learn as much about ourselves through fiction as we do in life. Classical Studies and Literature are subjects that help us develop our knowledge and appreciation for great art, great poetry and great story-telling; they work to develop our aesthetic sensibilities in how the spoken and written word, and various visual media, both entertain and educate us in the most fascinating way possible. These are life-long skills.

My favourite classroom activity

When analysing a piece of art, be it a poem, a novel, a film, a philosophical discussion, a piece of architecture or sculpture, and students are engaged with the art itself and each other, then the enjoyment comes. This does not just happen. As a teacher my role is to transmit enough knowledge of the content and skill in how it is communicated as to allow the student to become engaged in the learning themselves and become independent and original thinkers. Students enjoy when they can come to a ‘penny drop’ moment about something that may have been obscure to them up until then. This is critical thinking at its best, and when learning and enjoyment become inseparable.

What difference can good teaching make?

In my subjects a successful student is one who enjoys the written and visual arts, has a love of the ancient world, and who enjoys the challenge of thinking deeply about and analysing what they study. Students who always wish to peer beyond superficiality and get to the source of why things are as they are will succeed in my classes. Students who have a great sense of intelligent fun and a desire to learn while engaging with others in a mutual endeavour will, I hope, benefit from my passion as a teacher and my knowledge of the subject matter. They will also benefit by being exposed to the seminal cultural, artistic, intellectual and historical forces that have shaped the Western world.

Other Hats

I am the MiC of Debating and Squash. Up until recently I was a squash player competing in the A grade pennant in Bendigo. My passions outside of school are my family and travelling. I love good music, films and TV as well!