“THANK YOU” TEACHERS Saluting our teachers and school support staff

October 28 2016 in Australian and NT World Teachers Day.  

Piece published in ‘Suns’ on 26 October 2016.

This Friday, October 28 is being celebrated as World Teachers’ Day. Territory teachers will be recognised and thanked at functions in Darwin, Palmerston, Alice Springs, Katherine, Nhulunbuy and at smaller centres around the NT. Individual schools, their students and communities will also celebrate their teachers and school support staff. This is well deserved.

Teachers and school staff members have enormous responsibilities. High-level expectations are held for them. Teachers are people responsible for a great deal that goes beyond the academics of teaching and learning. They are advisors, counsellors and friends, responsible for social, emotional and moral aspects of development in young people. They share a real partnership with parents and primary caregivers in the nurturing of this world’s most precious resource – our children.

Dispelling Myths

There are two everlasting myths about teaching that need to be dispelled.

The first is that teachers work a six hour day, five days a week, for forty weeks each year. The amount of time teachers spend “on tasks” over and above that time means the public is only aware of the “tip of the iceberg”. Hours of additional planning and preparation go into teaching. Instruction is followed by assessment, upon which revision and extension programs are based.

The second myth is that teachers focus only on academics. Although the “3Rs” are very important there is a great deal more to the development of children than ‘Reading, Writing and Arithmetic’.

The aim of school educators is to work with parents to develop well rounded students. Young people need both confidence and skill to master the challenges they will face. Sincere educators offer children the chance to succeed, by growing up to become confident, competent adults.

Recognising Northern Territory Teachers

The Northern Territory Government, the Department of Education, the Northern Territory Independent Schools Association’s and others will recognise teachers and school support workers for the contribution they make to our community. This once a year celebration recognises the effort, care and commitment teachers and staff bring to work every day.

Celebrations on Friday will enable the NT community to appreciate teachers, support staff and others connected with education across the length and breadth of the Territory. This recognition is richly deserved.

There can be no greater or more significant work than what is done by staff in our schools. The destiny of our children and young people of today, the leaders of tomorrow’s world, is largely in their hands.


Published in the ‘Suns’ newspaper in October 2016. 

An Early Childhood Conference in Darwin in early October dealt with the issue of educational priorities. An emphasis offered by presenters was to restate the importance technology plays in the development of young children. The use of technology by students enhances and reinforces learning was the ‘catch-cry’. Many applications have been developed which promote children’s understandings in the areas of basic literacy and numeracy.

One of the inferences that could be drawn from the conference was the need for greater attention to this aspect of learning. The idea of teachers and children involved in old-fashioned interaction was somewhat downplayed.
Without doubt, technology can be used to enhance learning outcomes and understanding. However, the idea that young children should be more engaged with devices and less preoccupied with the “old-fashioned” ways of learning is unfortunate.
Children can do drawings on computers and smart-board screens. They can construct two and three dimensional objects by using their fingers to push buttons and manipulate screen controls. However this approach cannot stand in place of drawing, cutting, and constructions using paper, pencils, crayons and scissors. It’s important that the manipulative abilities of children be learned and enhanced through activities that are many decades old. Total replacement of traditional approaches with new age technology is not wise.

Similarly physical and mental agility needs to be developed through running, skipping, playing, and moving about outside. It’s physical activities in these contexts that develops social awareness and spatial understanding.
Technological devices have a place within early learning contexts. However, I believe it important that teachers primarily engage with children where the major focus is conversational. Their relationship ought not to be about micro management that records and reports their every move. Personal engagement between teachers and children must remain paramount.  


This paper comments upon the growth and maturity of the Charles Darwin University (NT Australia).  An edited version has been published in the Suns Newspaper (4 August 2016)

Educationally, we often tend to discount what is available within the Territory. That is especially the case with university education.

Many Territorians view our university with some suspicion. They believe degrees earned locally are of less value than those attained at older interstate universities. I believe that view to be both out-dated and misinformed. Our university has grown up.

NT tertiary education commenced in the 1980s in two large rooms in Mataram Street, Winnellie. In time and over the years, the Darwin Community College (DCC) morphed into the Northern Territory University (NTU) with campuses at Larrakeyah (the old hospital and nurses quarters subsequently bulldozed) and Dripstone. In 2003, the NTU became the Charles Darwin University (CDU) headquartering at Casuarina. Faculties have developed and course offerings extended. In its early days, students often had to complete degree courses at southern universities, with only initial units being available at home. Full degree courses in Science, Engineering, Education and Medicine are now available.

The university provides for students in regional centres. Centres have been established in Alice Springs, Nhulunbuy, Katherine, Palmerston and at Darwin’s Waterfront. Interstate offices are located in Melbourne and Sydney. “Charles Darwin University … showcases teaching and research unique to its region. … Its membership of the Innovative Research Universities … enhances the outcomes of higher education.” (Good Universities Guide 2017, p.303) External students are excellently provided for through online study opportunities. A large percentage of its 11,500 higher degree students are enrolled from interstate and overseas. Nearly 1,000 are from overseas. The university supports Indigenous Students through the Australian Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Education (ANIKE) at the Casuarina Campus and its outreach program at the Batchelor Institute of Tertiary Education

The Universities Guide reports that 82% of graduates from CDU gain employment straight after graduation. Graduate starting salaries in the order of $60,000 plus dollars are common.

The CDU has had (and still has) its challenges. But it also has a lot to celebrate and it’s successes should not be overlooked. Tertiary education is in its 27th year of local delivery. This year it achieved the enviable status of being ranked among the top 300 universities in the world. This places OUR university in the top 2% of universities worldwide. This places the CDU in the group of Australia’s top 10 universities in Australia, offering both vocational and higher education courses.

Our university has earned both respect and appreciation. Those choosing to study through CDU should not to be disappointed.


Note: I have been a student at our university.  I am also a casual lecturer, tutor and marker.