I am writing this brief series of posts in order to give a little background on my association with the Charles Darwin University in its current and former lives. I’m suggesting that my association and awareness gives me some qualification to speak about matters associated with the university and tertiary education in the Northern Territory.

Our university started as the Darwin Community College in the 1970s in rooms on a site in Mataram Street Winnellie. It’s moved on and gone through various phases, name changes, and locations since that time.

My association with our tertiary institution in the Northern Territory commenced in 1987 and 1988. I was a part-time lecturer working in teacher education at the then new Casuarina Campus . My work was with preservice teachers and I developed and presented the unit titled “Socio-cultural Communications”. Simply put, the aim of this unit was to help teachers in training to understand the realities of schools and the community is into which they would be going and working upon graduation.

I remember that at that time we had a burgeoning population of preservice teachers on campus studying either full time or part time. There was excellent contact between staff and students.

Students were required to attend lectures and if absent had to produce medical evidence justifying non-attendance. In a similar way, tutorials were compulsory and well attended. There was a strong interaction between these pre-service teachers both within lecture and tutorial contexts. Interaction between lecturer, tutors and students was enhanced and facilitated by this process. 

From my own teacher training experience and from work I did at the Darwin Community College (later the Northern Territory University) I came to appreciate the strength that groupship and synergy provides for those who are training to be teachers. Being part of a group, sharing experiences, exchanging ideas and working collectively was one of the strengths of teacher education.

That was how it used to be and it was all good. Responsibility and owners for being accountable was placed on the students and lecturers felt a strong sense of togetherness with the students who were part of their cohort.

That’s how it was!

But unfortunately, time moves on and produces new approaches that are much touted but far inferior to the way it used to be.

(it is interesting that these new approaches are usually held in high regard and promoted as “the best” by people who were around during the era of which I write in this post.)

I’ll share more in my next post on this topic.

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