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

WHAT MAKES A GURU (2)

The Emergence of a Guru (Part Two)

(The birthing of new educational ideas)

He was widely acclaimed and received by audiences everywhere in the educated world.

Figuratively (and in some cases literally) they fell at his feet. At times he couldn’t believe that he, an ordinary man, had become a “Guru Centric”.

Now it was that this Guru became a cult figure lauded by those who ranged from very high IQ’s to more run of the mill citizens. This acceptance by everyone became a denominator that linked people of all persuasions.

People paid to hear the words of this now Mighty Guru, basking in the matter and manner of his presentations. People paid to buy his words. He made a mint from PowerPoint sales, DVD’s, essays and texts and by uploading these words into cyberspace and onto the net where they could be downloaded by adherents – for quite substantial remuneration.

Those of mercenary bent designed and sold T-shirts, mugs, writing stationery and other items enhanced by his countenance and embellished by his signature. He even became a hero on Pokemon cards.

Like Pedro climbing the mountain, he had reached dizzying heights of stratospheric proportion. He WAS the “Great One” above and looking down on all below him.

HIS was the pinnacle of life.

As the Guru

THIS GURU

Looked down and proclaimed.

“I’m on top of the world

Looking down on my creation

And the only explanation I can find

A the people I see

Looking at me, Me, ME,

Think I am special

And one of a kind.”

To be continued

WHAT MAKES A GURU (1)

The Emergence of a Guru (Part One)

(The birthing of new educational ideas)

Once upon a time on the eve of a Melbourne Cup day, an ordinary man had an extraordinary dream. In his dream it came to him that he needed to do only ONE thing in order to achieve personal greatness. In his dream the lightbulb of his subconscious mind flashed on. In order to achieve greatness he needed to develop a … develop a … THEORY. A new way forward.

A Theory! FANTASTIC!!

This very ordinary person thought about the inspiration presented to him in his dreams.

This new idea would be something he wanted to develop, espouse and portray orally and in written form. The would want to share his theory with one and all. He wanted it to be new, big and exciting. He wanted it to work for him in a way that would bring him acclaim, pecuniary emollient and above all, recognition.

He wanted to be a GURU. An ordinary man lifted to extraordinary heights caused by the ‘realisation and awakening’ of his theory falling on the ears of those who wanted to be convinced that his idea would indeed be a new way forward.

This “would be” Guru realised the importance of promoting and marketing his new idea. So he talked about his new theory and never let a moment rest when he wasn’t theorising to others.

At first people were only mildly interested in the would be Guru’s Theory.

But like a little rock thrown into the middle a pond produces a ripple that spreads and spreads, the interest grew and grew and grew. It became quite exponential.

Gatherings of people (who self-defined as learned ones) began to talk, to echo and reflect upon the theory of this “Great One” who had come into their midst. They could not get enough of his exposition.

He went on a major lecture tour, preaching his theory in places wide-ranging in nature

– from small country town halls to metropolitan convention centres.

MICE MAKE ME SHUDDER

Be it a good attitude or not, I have to say that mice are creatures I find quite revolting. Having lived through a mouse plague many years ago, I feel for those who have had to endure invasions by mice in following years. In my case, our remoteness meant that mouse traps were hard to acquire. I had four traps, three with the capacity to catch pone mouse at a time, the fourth being one with four entry points for inquisitive mice.

We had a 44 gallon drum outside the fence to our house. This served as a bin and incinerator. For quite some number of weeks, I was emptying traps after work, then getting up and down all night to reset sprung traps. The most mice I ever caught in one night were 64. It was common for two mice to both be caught in a trap that had a single mouse capacity. Quite often, there were four mice caught in the ‘four mouse’ trap,

Mice were through our clothes, the wardrobes and dresser cupboards. They would run across our beds of a night. They would scoot across the top of our ceilings and scritch and scratch their way up and down the spaces between the internal panelling and external walls of our house.

We had food in our cupboards in tins fitted with plastic lids. Mice would get on top of these food containers, chew through the plastic lids, fall into the food and then go dead.

Our kitchen sink has a leak in one of the pipes feeding water into the sink itself. The house belonged to the WA Education Department. This, and other glaring faults had been left to fester over time – notwithstanding requests for fixing. The mice found the area behind the sink a beautiful, cool and refreshing place to nest. They established a colony. In the end, I had to dismantle the storage space connected with the sink. It was full of refuse, dirt, wet soil and was laced with a myriad of mouse tunnels, burrows and nests. The whole lot went into the incinerator.

Apart from noise and total living discomfit, the mice brought with them a horrible and penetrating stench, one that grew over the time of their invasion.

Finally, the plague abated, leaving us with a lot of cleaning up and re-provisioning to do.

This plague was of mice from the bush, for we lived 519 kilometres from the nearest town. I am sure readers would understand why I am not sympathetic toward mice and why I would never ever donate to any fund that sought to preserve these rodents.

DON’T GRANDSTAND ABOUT INDIGENOUS ISSUES

I was the first graduate from the Mount Lawley College of Advanced Education (now part of Edith Cowan University) course

“Post Graduate Diploma in Intercultural Studies” which focussed exclusively on Indigenous Australians. My graduate certificate in marked “Number 1”. That was in 1976.

Over many years, that learning stood me in good stead as a person, teacher and school principal. It helped me in my guidance of others and supported me in understanding important situations that focus on cross-cultural language and relationships. It has always helped me in terms of sifting the grain from the chaff, the wheat from the tares on this important issue.

One of the things I abhor most, is knowing of people who use indigenous issues as a bandwagon for self promotion. They include both indigenous and non indigenous persons. Big-noting for the purpose of self aggrandisement on this critically important issue is a sin.

Once Upon a Time in Education

Once upon a time in Education

Listening was an important attribute instilled as an attribute enhancing comprehension and understanding.

Handwriting was taught and legibility encouraged.

Children learned about words through phonetic study.

Oral reading to the teacher and within groups lead to fluency when sharing text. Discussion within groups and shared conversation built understanding about meaning of the written word.

Children learned tables and mathematical formulae. They developed the ability to carry out mental computation and were dexterous without the need for calculator assistance.

Grammar was studied. Rules relating to the English language and usage were studied and understood.

Spelling was an essential subject. Words and their usage was an important part of study.

My oh my, how things have changed.

Response to ‘NT News’ editorial about Youth Crime in the NT

Your editorial “put arrogant offenders to work in the businesses they damage” (26/8) reignited memories of the seriousness of youth crime – not this week or last but back in the very late 1980’s. The consequences of criminal behaviour impacting on Darwin residents and business owners was so severe, that a community forum on the subject was organised. This forum took place over two days and was held at the Uniting Church in Casuarina. The gathering, on both days was well attended; pros and cons including supposition about the reasons for criminal behaviour and what might be done to understand the behaviour of perpetrators while better supporting victims, were canvassed at length.

Toward the end of the second day, the gathering resolved that a committee be established to keep a watching brief over criminal behaviour impacting the community, while developing recommendations to put before government on how the matter might be addressed. The group was asked to develop strategies which, if actioned, might help reduce the levels of crime being encountered.

The committee was to meet monthly and report to government on the progress of its deliberations. After several meetings, the group agreed that it’s task was impossible and it was disbanded.

Thirty plus years on, aberrant and criminal behaviour by youth is still an issue, but one that is much sharper, more focussed and seemingly more insoluble than those decades ago.

EDUCATION’S PRIME FOCUS

Janet Albrechtsen’s column (‘Parents must do their job so teachers can do their own’, Inquirer, Weekend Australian 2-3 July) brought back a memory of education being describe metaphorically as a tripod supported by three legs, students, teachers and parents. The strength, value and balance of education is determined by the awareness and support each ‘leg’ offers the other. If, as Albrechtsen writes, parents abdicate the primacy of their roles, education destabilises.

Unfortunately, education systems have been far too prepared to accept an expanded ‘loco parentis’ role, hand-balling additional responsibilities for student development and upbringing to schools and teachers. Teaching responsibilities are being diminished and diffused as teachers “… play the role of social worker, psychologist, mediator, police officer, judge and then find the time to teach …”.

Teachers are being forced into becoming “Jacks of all trades and masters of none.” It is small wonder that Australian education has declined. Unless authorities take note and act on the advice of Albrechtsen and others to reprioritise (and return) to the prime functions of teaching, teachers historically fulfilled, necessary corrections will not happen any time soon. This has to be predicated by parents returning to their parenting roles.

THE DILEMMA OF YOUTH CRIME IN THE NT

Why is it that with all the discussions happening about youth crime, (a phenomena that’s becoming worse and worse), that parents and primary caregivers are not held in any way to be responsible for the conduct of young people under their management control.

My first acquaintance with the issue of out- of-control crime in Darwin goes back to a forum held on the subject in 1989 (I think) in the Casuarina Uniting Church. At some point in time I will write on the outcome of that two day meeting. Suffice it to say, that a lot of the children offending these days are the children and indeed the grandchildren of those who were creating the problems of criminal behaviour back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Criminal behaviour by young people is sadly an indelible part and underpinning behaviour in the Northern Territory. It has become entrenched.

EDUCATION LACKS FOCUS, HEART AND SOUL

Jason Clare seems to have a burning ambition to contribute to the enhancement and development of education’s offerings to Australian students. His enthusiasm is commendable and his acceptance of advice from Tanya Pliberseck (along with her willingness to offer that support) is commendable.

I hope that within the educational domain, Mr Clare is able to discern the wood from the trees. There has been far too much experimentation and allowance of teaching to be subjugated to the whims of researchers whose experimentation turns students into educational guinea pigs.

Good, sound holistic education, as declared essential in the preamble of the Melbourne Declaration on Education in 2008 needs to be revisited. The declaration stated education should take account of the academic, social, emotional and moral/spiritual needs of students. Sadly, that ambition now seems to have become lost in history.

A MAGNIFICENT THREE

Three Outstanding NT Female Leaders

We are blessed in the NT to have an outstanding numbers of persons, in terms of awareness and leadership, doing great things for our community.

I don’t included politicans or local government representatives in my reflection because they are in a position to create change based upon the polder they have through parliamentary and local government processes.

I am still reflecting upon men , but in terms of women, the three who most stand out to me in terms of their ‘cut through’ and influence, their tenacity, their persistence in pursuing kept issues and their focus on issues rather than personality are:

Number 3:

Amy Hetherington-Tait as an influencer, her dexterity and her capacity to contribute positively in every situation. She is a developer of people and an outstanding entertainer.

Number 2:

Ruth Palmer, CEO of the Darwin Property Council, for her enthusiasm and constant pursuit of outcomes to situation which will uplift and promote our widower community. She is a dynamo who is indefatigable when it comes to role set fulfilment. She is a visionary but also a completer and finisher.

Number 1:

Katie Woolf OAM, the Mix 104.9 360 Radio presenter, whose three hour programs each day, Monday to Friday, focus Territorians on key issues, current trends and developments. She is always issues focussed and asks the questions about our community that need to be put both those in power. She is a fierce believer in the need for accountability to be a hallmark of Territory leaders in all fields of endeavour. She is a ‘without fear or favour’ person, whose contributions refresh and enlighten our territory.

Thank you for the work you do and the contributions you make to this place.