About pooroldhenry

I was a long term Northern Territory (NT) Educator, commencing my teaching career in WA in 1970. We came to the NT in July 1975 and worked in remote, town then urban communities. My tenure in the NT was at Numbulwar School (1975- 1978), Angurugu Community School on Groote Eylandt (1979-1982), Nhulunbuy Primary School (1983-1986), then Karama School (1987-1991) and lastly Leanyer School (1992 until retiring in January 2012). I filled the position of school principal from 1977 until my retirement. My career started at Warburton Ranges in WA as a teacher in 1970 then as headmaster in 1974. My major focus on and belief in education is that it develop children and students holistically, preparing them for the whole of life. Educational partnerships involving staff, students, community and department have always been important. I am a Fellow and Lifetime Member of the Council of Education Leaders, a Life Member of the Association of School Education Leaders (recently rebranded as the Northern Territory Principals Association) and was awarded the Commonwealth Centenary Medal for contribution to education. A member of Toastmasters International I am an Advanced Toastmaster Gold (ATMG). I hold a number of degrees and remain actively interested in and contributive to education. A highlight of my 'recent' life (from 2011 until 2016) was contributing to Teacher Education at Charles Darwin University. This has involved marking, tutoring and lecturing in a part time capacity. I was also involved with our Department of Education (NT) as a member of the Principals Reference Group (2012 until 2016) and have worked with others on the establishment of a Principals Coaching and Mentoring program. From 2014, I was the Education Minister's Nominee on the NT Board of Studies until its reconstitution in July 2016. Prior to retirement from full time work I represented the Education Department on the Board (2009 - 2011). I was working in support of students enrolled with the School of Education at CDU from 2012 until 2017. I enjoyed the chance to give back to the profession which over many years has done much for me. From July 2013 until the end of June 2019, I wrote a weekly column about educational matters for the Darwin/Palmerston /Litchfield 'Suns' Newspapers and then the rebranded 'Suns Newspaper' with Territory-wide circulation. This newspaper ceased publication in June 2019. I occasionally write for other papers and am a contributor to professional magazines and online discussion about educational matters. Included were regular contributions to the Australian Council of Education's 'e-Teaching' and 'e-Leading' publications, which ceased as communications organs in December 2017. I hold retired member's status with the Australian Education Union (NT), contributing occasionally to union publications. I am presently working on developing a series of vignettes, aimed at providing information that pre-service and beginning teachers may find useful. They are oriented toward assisting with an understanding of practices that may assist meet professional and teaching needs. To date, 89 of these have been completed. I contribute to general conversations and various groups on ‘Linked In’ and am also a contributor to ‘The Conversation’. I have a blog site at henrygrayblog.wordpress.com and invite you to access it at any time should you so wish. Henry Gray February 28 2020

READY FOR TEACHING BEYOND TRAINING?

Ready?

• Ready for the classroom misbehaviour and the management of ill-disciplined children.

Ready?

Ready to teach children as young as five about the meaning of ‘consent’.

Ready?

Ready for the NAPLAN tests which for many are an annual educational abomination.

Ready?

Ready to deal with an increasing number of parents who have no respect for education and educators.

Ready?

Ready to be weighed down by a curriculum to which elements are added and added without anything ever being deleted.

Ready?

Ready for endless exercises in professional development, which often seem to be purposeless and trite – indeed after hours time filling exercises.

Ready?

Ready for hours and hours and hours of educational input where teaching is more about data collection for systemic justification than it is for children.

Ready?

Ready for a career that so many teachers find to be disappointing and fruitless and so disenchanting that up to 70% of those graduating from pre-service into our schools, leave within five years.

Ready?

Never ready for what education is becoming.

ARE EDUCATIONAL GAINS BUT “SLIPPAGE”?

From time to time I hark back in my thinking and remembering to the time when Northern Territory Education was being taken over by our government. Until 1978 education in the Territory was under the control of Canberra.

In 1979 that all changed. We had our own department with our own first Director of Education Doctor Jim Eedle.

At the time I was a newish principal at Numbulwar. In March 1978, we were called to a Principals Conference in Katherine. It was our first conference aas ‘NT Education’.

Our new director told us that we should always be conscious of two things.

We should always remember that “schools are for children“. The second principle was “Structure should always serve function (schools for children) and not dominate).“

It often seems to me from that time onwards of the primary purpose of schooling (that it be for children) almost became secondary. The prime function of education more and more has come to be about growing it as an edifice.

A fairly simply constructed department which had two branches, “schools” and “support services“ has grown to now become a department with seven subsections. Our organisation is complex.

With that I don’t accept thatacceptthat our education and outcomes terms for childrenhas improved. The organisation has become one of growth. But it has been growth for the sake of structure and change within rather than being growth focusing on the needs of children.

Education in my opinion has slipped and that slippage continues.

EDUCATIONAL POINTS TO PONDER

POINTS TO PONDER

In the light of critical casual labour shortages, it makes common sense for the Australian Government to have allowed international students to work unlimited hours. This will help overcome the chronic labour shortfall in key tourism and hospitality industries. However, some training may be needed for students before they become tour guides.

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We are blessed by the knowledge that the boab tree, so much an integral part of our city for so long, is to be incorporated into and protected within the new CDU precinct. Those valuing the boab will be elated by news of the university so highly valuing this icon.

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Grey Morris’ column “in desperate need of a fresh Year of the Child” (Sun. Terr. 28/3) should be read and digested by all parents (and grandparents). Far too often, children are let down badly by prevailing political, economic and social circumstances. Genuine parental nurture, care and love are attributes so desperately needed by children and so often in short supply or completely lacking because parental priorities are elsewhere. This neglect is morally wrong.

EDUCATING ABOUT COVID CONTROL

I am a Territorian living within 20 kilometres from the Howard Springs quarantine centre. Until recently I have had every confidence in those staffing the centre being able to contain Covid-19 and its variants. Since July 17 2020, 364,829 persons from overseas have returned by air to Darwin and undertaken quarantine. International travellers have been competently managed by Australian Medical Assistance Teams (AUSMAT). These teams are globally verified as ‘the best’ when it comes to urgent medical response.

On May 3, AUSMAT control of returning travellers was handed over to the NT Government. The centre is now being managed by the NT Health Department under the oversight of NT Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker. There is a need for 400 new staff to be recruited and trained. To date, only 160 persons have been recruited. Additionally, specialist training is a protracted process, taking longer than five minutes.

Prime Minister Morrison will have all repatriation flights from India coming into Australia via Darwin. Flights are due to recommence on May 15. The idea of Howard Springs managing a virulent viral surge with a new team still learning to work together is deeply worrying. An escape of the virus into the NT community with its 40% indigenous population would be catastrophic. Along with many Territorians, my level of concern is reaching new heights.

CONFUSING AND COMPLICATING CURRICULUM

Interesting changes are proposed for changes to Australian curriculum. Personally, I worry about the fact that language embodied in documents is becoming more confused and less clear. Lightening the load on schools (declutttering) has been the subject of conversation since the 1980’s – possibly earlier. Jim Spinks, who partnered with Brian (whose surname escapes me today) was an influencer when devolved authority to schools was being touted in the 1980’s. I remember him telling us at a conference in Darwin that a major educational fault was continual adding on to curriculum and educational requirements. The problem was that nothing was dropped off, grossly overburdening curriculum requirements.

If anything, that congestion has worsened because schools and teachers are saddled with the responsibility of developing children in terms of behaviour, personal management and deportment.

I do not feel confident about the curriculum for students, young or old.

Neither do I like the fact that documentation to do with curriculum suggestions coming from ACARA is increasingly obtuse and ever less clear because of the language used.

DRESSING LESSONS

Lessons in “dressing“ for transition and Year One children can offer “stitch in time“ benefits. It may sound tiresome, repetitive and therefore monotonous to contemplate teaching little children to tie shoelaces, put hats on correctly, manage their socks, and to put on other articles of clothing. However in the long term time spent teaching little children these important personal rudiments can have great benefit.

Take for instance the timing of shoelaces. Initially, it’s going to be hard yakka teaching assistants and teachers who have to help children individually to tie up the shoelaces. However, children “learn by doing“. Observation may come first but with the instruction on tying shoelaces some of the children will grasp the methodology. They intern will help children who are still in learning phase.It’s good practice for children who know how to do the tiling and the motivation for children still learning to become independent so they don’t have to rely upon their peers. Overreliance becomes embarrassing!

If these skills are not taught when children are young they begin moving up the grades still without the ability to undertake these important elements of personal care. That becomes more than embarrassing; it may become a point of teasing and bullying that gets to be directed at those who are still inept.

Building confidence in young children is important. That building of confidence in Hants if independence in terms of personal care is developed.

It’s also time saving for teachers and support staff, particularly when children need to take off their shoes for PE, need to get ready to go swimming, need to restore their motor additional dress after swimming lessons and so on. And and “stitch in time saves nine“ certainly pays dividends for children and their teachers in the longer term

DRESSING LESSONS

DRESSING LESSONS

Lessons in “dressing“ for transition and Year One children can offer “stitch in time“ benefits. It may sound tiresome, repetitive and therefore monotonous to contemplate teaching little children to tie shoelaces, put hats on correctly, manage their socks, and to put on other articles of clothing. However in the long term time spent teaching little children these important personal rudiments can have great benefit.

Take for instance the timing of shoelaces. Initially, it’s going to be hard yakka teaching assistants and teachers who have to help children individually to tie up the shoelaces. However, children “learn by doing“. Observation may come first but with the instruction on tying shoelaces some of the children will grasp the methodology. They intern will help children who are still in learning phase.It’s good practice for children who know how to do the tiling and the motivation for children still learning to become independent so they don’t have to rely upon their peers. Overreliance becomes embarrassing!

If these skills are not taught when children are young they begin moving up the grades still without the ability to undertake these important elements of personal care. That becomes more than embarrassing; it may become a point of teasing and bullying that gets to be directed at those who are still inept.

Building confidence in young children is important. That building of confidence in Hants if independence in terms of personal care is developed.

It’s also time saving for teachers and support staff, particularly when children need to take off their shoes for PE, need to get ready to go swimming, need to restore their motor additional dress after swimming lessons and so on. And and “stitch in time saves nine“ certainly pays dividends for children and their teachers in the longer term.

READY FOR TEACHING BEYOND TRAINING?

Ready?

Ready for the classroom misbehaviour and the management of ill-disciplined children.

Ready?

Ready to teach children as young as five about the meaning of ‘consent’.

Ready?

Ready for the NAPLAN tests which for many are an annual educational abomination.

Ready?

Ready to deal with an increasing number of parents who have no respect for education and educators.

Ready?

Ready to be weighed down by a curriculum to which elements are added and added without anything ever being deleted.

Ready?

Ready for endless exercises in professional development, which often seem to be purposeless and trite – indeed after hours time filling exercises.

Ready?

Ready for hours and hours and hours of educational input where teaching is more about data collection for systemic justification than it is for children.

Ready?

Ready for a career that so many teachers find to be disappointing and fruitless and so disenchanting that up to 70% of those graduating from pre-service into our schools, leave within five years.

Ready?

Never ready for what education is becoming.

LACK OF COMMUNICATION IS HISTORY

OUTBACK SCHOOLS ARE NO LONGER ISOLATED

Back in the early 1980s, Borroloola School was on the outback radio scheduled conducted by the Nhununbuy Regional Education Office.

The radio aerial was not very firmly attached into the ground. A horse kicked it over.

That meant for a period of time direct radio communication from the regional office was impossible.

At the time I was principal of Angurugu School on Groote Eylandt.

For some weeks, messages from Nhulunbuy to Borroloola and vice versa had to be relayed through Angurugu.

Eventually the aerial was permanently fixed into the ground and direct communication was restored.

Such was life back then and back then was not all that long ago. Communication has marched on at a rate of knots; isolation from the world is no longer a part of Outback and remote areas service.

WOMEN – APPRECIATED COLLEAGUES

I was blessed to have the chance to work with many female educators over 40 plus years. I hope I never bullied any of them. I tried to be supportive of all my staff, female and male, and tried to avoid thought and practice differentiation that went to gender: They were all professionals, all teachers. Included were senior teachers, assistant principals and finance administrators.

I tried to model my leadership style on the concentric practice approach. That is an Asian model that recognises position but does not stand on traditional hierarchical principles that have huge separation between superordinates and subordinates.

I published several papers on the subject of concentric management and my examination of the model elicited some interesting responses. The model was one that helped me in understanding all colleagues and work associates. Over the years, my workplaces were enriched by all those with whom I worked, women and men alike.