Reflections, mostly about a chequered teaching career: Part One

To quote Jim Belshaw, who was up with the lark this morning: “It’s just coming up on dawn. Yesterday was a hot day, today is expected to be more so. They are talking about 43c, 109.4F. That’s quite hot.” Indeed it is.

This morning too (our time) Ramana in India posted Doubts And Regrets.

…“A man is not old until his regrets take the place of his dreams.” – Yiddish Proverb.
I have learnt to like or at least accept what I attract rather than attract what I like. That enables me to live now without doubts and regrets leaving both to others to handle to the best of their ability. They can chase their dreams and spend a lot of money on all the books, tapes, videos, blogs etc that sell “The Secret” and the “Law of Attraction.” I shall watch the fun and chuckle.

Now for all those sixty plus readers of my blog, here is something that each of us would like to sing and for those younger, you have some catching up to do.

And so spurred too by Mr R on Facebook as he is about to teach in Wollongong (as I did long ago) I have been on an archaeological dig and have uncovered some of the great highs, and lows, of my teaching career. As for Mr R, a SBHS ex-student and great friend, I was struck by this remark of his: “I am creating the future here!!!!” Whether tongue-in-cheek or not one can never be sure with Mr R, but that’s true for teachers anyway, at least up to a point.

Quite a few of my Facebook friends — not that I have anything but a modest collection — are ex-students, and one, Craig Donarski, goes all the way back to my Wollongong days. So too does my friend Simon H, mentioned on my blogs from time to time, whom I first met in 1970. Of course my oldest ex-student (from Cronulla) turns 61 this year!

Here is a snapshot from my last year in Wollongong.

J opens the door. He has just moved in, a year in America behind him. He will be a writer, is starting a course, will live alone not answerable to anyone for who he is what he does. He has been painting: the walls white, the furniture brown.

– Mr Smith!

– Hi, J. It seems we’re neighbours. Rosemary rang me from Wollongong and told me you were here. I’m living just around the corner.

– Really! Have you been transferred?

– Yes, to Simmons Street.

– That’s a good school isn’t it?

– So they say.

– Well… nice to see you. Would you like to come in? Sorry about the mess.

– What mess? You’re a model of neatness. You should see my place, books and boxes everywhere.

[There were rumours last year that Mr Smith was having it off with a Year 12 girl.]

– Would you like some coffee?

[There were rumours last year that Mr Smith was having it off with that spunky librarian.]

– Thanks, J.

[There were rumours last year that Mr Smith was having it off with the milkman. “Had your cream this morning?” the class wit, Carcase, used to ask him.]

No prize for guessing who Mr Smith is, or that Simmons Street is Fort Street. I took the name from “Brian James”, The Advancement of Spencer Button (1950), a bit of a classic and still one of the best (satirical) novels on teaching in NSW.

— continues in the next post.

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