Great teachers I had a few – but then again too few to mention

Andrew Leigh has a post on an ANU award for great teachers. This is a Good Thing. While I’m in full cry about the forth arm of government – the ‘suasional’ arm of government – I wondered why the ALP didn’t give out awards like that. Could do them much harm. Could do them some good in showing what values they support.

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7 Responses to Great teachers I had a few – but then again too few to mention

  1. It’s a great idea, and kudos to Andrew for initiating it.

    I had two fantastic teachers in senior – for English and History. By coincidence, I was in Dymocks tonight buying a couple of hardback history tomes, Niall Ferguson’s latest and a history of Prussia – and I ran into Mr Tobin my modern history teacher and had a chat. A lot of what he taught me has stayed with me and continued to fire my enthusiasms and interests. And similarly with Mrs Abernathy for English and my literary interests – though they’re more of an avocation.

    But when – if ever – and I’m 38 and 21 years out of high school – do you feel comfortable addressing the said teachers as Graham and Kate? I always give myself a gold star if I’m able to avoid “sir” or “miss”?

    And Mr Sherman too – Paul never taught me but as a Drama teacher directed Shakespeare plays I was in – he’s very well known in Brisbane theatre circles as someone who’s been acting, inspiring, and organising since the 60s.

    I’m always very chuffed to see them, and I’m sure they’ve had a positive influence on generations of Kedron High kids. We had a very good bunch of teachers – in a state high school in what was basically a lower middle class area – those three are just the most outstanding.

  2. I should have mentioned Mr Salmon – my favourite teacher from Primary School. I met up with him about ten years ago at a 125 anniversary of our school – Harkaway State School. It was a great day and I was able to tell him he was my favourite teacher. I had lots of other goodish teachers – Mr White at Haileybury but (sadly) none that I can say really inspired me, really fired my imagination in some special way. Might well be a comment about my shortcomings as much as any of theirs!

    Mark, why would you want to call the teachers anything other than Mr or Miss unless of course they invited you to do otherwise. I still call my Mum ‘Mum’ not ‘Ann’. Then again whether you call your parents by their ‘titles’ (ie Mum and Dad or some derivative, affectionate or otherwise) or their first names is an interesting can of worms. My daughter started calling me by my first name when she was about three or four and somewhat to my surprise I told her I wasn’t ‘Nick’ or ‘Nicholas’ to her – I was ‘Dad’. Now I’m known by various derivatives of Dad, but not Nicholas.

  3. I can’t remember how this started, but I call my mum “Mum” but my father “Brian” – I have a feeling before I was about 5 it used to be different – perhaps I was encouraged to call each by their first names – it was the 70s!

    I think titles have been on the way out for ages. When I was first at Uni in 86, we used to call all the academics Prof X or Dr Y (or Mr M or Ms N as there were a lot from the MA as terminal degree era), but I very rarely hear academics addressed by anything other than their first name. And in customer service, when I hand over my credit card to pay for something, I always get “Mark” instead of “Mr Bahnisch”. I very occasionally encounter waitstaff who call me “sir” but I always ask them not to.

  4. Yes, that’s right at uni, but I think there’s more titles at schools which I think is good. I think titles are going out elsewhere with kids also but I always called my best friends Mum ‘Mrs Chandler’ and I more or less still would! But relations with seniors between adults is different to between kids adults I reckon. But of course these are just my values. English has some of the least use of honorifics of any language I think. Odd given the attention given to status in England!

  5. Maybe the titles at school are a replacement for “Sir” and “Miss”, so in a sense still less formal!

  6. James Farrell says:

    When I entered at a high school in Brisbane (having started high school at an international school overseas), and heard ‘Sir’ and ‘Miss’ I found them very comical and couldn’t bring myself to use them. I always said Mr Rigby and Mrs Mackerras. In years 11 and 12 we were allowed to use the teachers’ first names (even with the nuns). Unlike Nicholas, I found this natural and was glad of it: I wanted to be treated as an adult. Now university students call me sir, and after 15 years it still jars.

  7. I’m not too much of a fan of ‘Sir’. When I spent six months in primary school in Rahleigh North Carolina it was M’am which was harder still. But Mr this and that seems OK to me. I recall it was school policy when I did Matric (in a high school) for the teachers to be called Mr/Miss/Mrs. If not policy that’s what happened – that was 1974. At uni there was a fair hangover from that, but some first names were used as one was invited (from memory). Rafe would have some interesting recollections of all this from around 10-15 years earlier. I think in those days there was still a bit of Mistering and Doctoring going on between academics – where it was genteel to wait until some familiarity developed before you were on first name terms. I think that was the case with Manning Clark’s generation – but that was a generation back again.

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