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

Countering Covid

Countering Covid

Covid 19 and it’s variants are making a joke of the Australian Government. The virus is running around us all. The only thing predictable is that the virus will continue to wreak havoc.

My thoughts on strangling the virus.

Close airports to all passenger traffic.

All passenger flights both international and domestic travellers suspended.

All planes carrying freight and goods to be deep cleaned at the end of each trip.

All trucks carrying foodstuffs and other essentials to be deep cleaned at the end of each trip.

All airline crews and truck drivers to be Covid tested every 24 hours. All to be vaccinated.

No inanimate goods to be transported across state or territory boundaries until the end of 2021.

No cruise liners to offer tours until at least July 2023.

No one to travel across state and territory borders for family, work or domestic purposes.

No Australian inbound or outbound traffic allowed. No border force permits allowing travel to be issued.

All repatriation flights to be suspended for the next three months.

Hotel quarantine to cease in future with quarantine confined to appropriately constructed facilities. These must be at reasonable distance from capital cities.

All people working in ages care and all delivering services of goods to be vaccinated.

Vaccination to be compulsory for all people aged 16 years and over unless excused by a medical certificate issued by a qualified medical practitioner.

All children aged 8 years and over to be vaccinated. This could be a program rolled out through schools.

The Last Day

THE LAST DAY

CEO’s, Directors and top level leaders and managers in private and public organisations faithfully tow the party line. Many of them are faithful adherents to the party line for decades and decades. They discourage dissent from persons lower down the organisation by putting clamps on their ability to speak up on issues.

Come the day of their retirement and many speak up, often critical of the directions being followed by their organisations over years of operation.

One can but wonder!

OUTBACK EDUCATION IN THE ‘NOT TOO DISTANT’ PAST Warburton Ranges (WA) in 1974-75 (19)

While educators, we were very concerned about the general health and welfare of the children at Warburton. To that end, we engaged with the children in a number of ways to try and enhance issues of general well-being. From the beginning of the 1974 school year, we decided to encourage children, as they came from their camps each morning to shower in the community ablutions blocks. In 1974, the galvanised female and male blocks were separated by partitioning and were quite private. The showers, a community facility, were rarely used, largely because the only showering option was cold water.

The ablutions block had donkey boilers attached but these had to be serviced.

Donkey boilers were 44 gallon (120 litre) drums hooked up with water inlets and outlets as befitting traditional wood burning bath heaters. In order to facilitate the showering program, I used to go down each morning and light fires under the boilers. Wood was supplied by the community and I did the rest.

We supervised the showering programs, supplying detergent for each child. Towels were communal and supplied clean each morning by the Health Department staff. After use, they were collected, washed, dried and readied for use the next day.

This service was provided for most of the 1974 school year from Monday’s to Friday’s.

We oversaw some other aspects of health care for children. From time to time we organised haircuts for students in order to assist with health care. We also organised for children suffering from weeping ears and scabies to go to the health clinic for treatment. Weeping ears were often accentuated and made worse because flies were attracted by the condition. Dead flies were often removed from children’s ears at the health centre. On one occasion, nine flies were removed from one ear and eleven from the other ear of an afflicted child.

These conditions were worse after weekends and holidays because during the school week, staff kept a regular and supportive check on students.

The Education Department supplied vitamin and mineral enriched biscuits for students. They were a small supplement we added to their diet, distributing them at school. Cartons of canned Carnation milk were sent, to be made up and distributed at school.

A midday meal and afternoon tea were supplied to children by the community this being part of the government funded support program – as had been the case when we first went to Warburton in 1970.

Afternoon tea was a sandwich and a piece of fruit. On many occasions, this food was passed over by children to others within the community who are not provided for by the program.

OUTBACK EDUCATION IN THE ‘NOT TOO DISTANT’ PAST Warburton Ranges (WA) in 1974-75 (19)

While educators, we were very concerned about the general health and welfare of the children at Warburton. To that end, we engaged with the children in a number of ways to try and enhance issues of general well-being. From the beginning of the 1974 school year, we decided to encourage children, as they came from their camps each morning to shower in the community ablutions blocks. In 1974, the galvanised female and male blocks were separated by partitioning and were quite private. The showers, a community facility, were rarely used, largely because the only showering option was cold water.

The ablutions block had donkey boilers attached but these had to be serviced.

Donkey boilers were 44 gallon (120 litre) drums hooked up with water inlets and outlets as befitting traditional wood burning bath heaters. In order to facilitate the showering program, I used to go down each morning and light fires under the boilers. Wood was supplied by the community and I did the rest.

We supervised the showering programs, supplying detergent for each child. Towels were communal and supplied clean each morning by the Health Department staff. After use, they were collected, washed, dried and readied for use the next day.

This service was provided for most of the 1974 school year from Monday’s to Friday’s.

We oversaw some other aspects of health care for children. From time to time we organised haircuts for students in order to assist with health care. We also organised for children suffering from weeping ears and scabies to go to the health clinic for treatment. Weeping ears were often accentuated and made worse because flies were attracted by the condition. Dead flies were often removed from children’s ears at the health centre. On one occasion, nine flies were removed from one ear and eleven from the other ear of an afflicted child.

These conditions were worse after weekends and holidays because during the school week, staff kept a regular and supportive check on students.

The Education Department supplied vitamin and mineral enriched biscuits for students. They were a small supplement we added to their diet, distributing them at school. Cartons of canned Carnation milk were sent, to be made up and distributed at school.

A midday meal and afternoon tea were supplied to children by the community this being part of the government funded support program – as had been the case when we first went to Warburton in 1970.

Afternoon tea was a sandwich and a piece of fruit. On many occasions, this food was passed over by children to others within the community who are not provided for by the program.

OUTBACK EDUCATION IN THE ‘NOT TOO DISTANT’ PASTWarburton Ranges (WA) in 1974-75 (18)

On our return to Warburton, one of the saddest changes confronted was the way in which petrol sniffing had become ingrained among the younger set. Petrol sniffing had become a scourge, one making increasing impacts among boys and young men. At that time, unleaded petrol and the revelation of opal fuel was well into the future with leaded petrol being the most used of fuels for vehicles. Boys had quite ingenious ways of relieving vehicles of petrol, siphoning petrol into cans for sniffing.

One of our support staff members and a very strong supporter of our school, Bernard Newberry, worked unceasingly with young people to help them realise the dangers of sniffing. This included everything from earnest conversation (in which I also participated) to chasing young people who had cans of petrol, in order to tip the evil liquid onto the ground.

The effects of prolonged addiction to petrol sniffing were apparent when we returned to Warburton in 1974. In 1970, I had a young man in my middle primary class who was, in my opinion, quite intellectually enriched. He was experimenting with petrol sniffing during that year. I had hoped he might desist but sadly that had not been the case. Rather, he became hopelessly addicted to the extent of reducing himself in the intervening three years to a person who had become an empty, vacuous shell.

Our Welfare Officer Ron Jarvis was deeply concerned about sniffing and we organised an outdoor lesson on the subject which he was going to conduct.
Using polystyrene, he made a model of the body’s key internal organs, including the liver, lungs, heart, digestive organs and brain. These he connected with wire and hung them into a frame. He explained to children that petrol had a way of destroying people from the inside. He touched the base of a lung with the equivalent of a teaspoonful of petrol. Immediately, the polystyrene lung began to collapse and ‘melt’ dripping onto the ground.

The impact of the petrol spread, melting ‘organs’ with increasing speed, with the brain the last to disappear. This was a graphic lesson with Mr Jarvis offering appropriate comment as internal organs dissipated.

The lesson had some impact, but for the whole of our remaining time at Warburton, we were confronted with the challenge of petrol sniffing. That challenge was one we never gave up trying to surmount. At that stage, we didn’t know that in years to come, volatile substance abuse would continue, with the addition of hard, addictive drugs; substances with the potential to engulf more and more people.

OUTBACK EDUCATION IN THE ‘NOT TOO DISTANT’ PASTWarburton Ranges (WA) in 1974-75 (17)

There were significant changes to the way Warburton operated in 1974 compared to 1971. An incorporated office had been established to run the administrative business of the community. This included an office, together with banking facilities which had (1970) been managed through the mission store. The store was under community control with Warburton being managed by a large consultancy group, WD Scott and Associates headquartered in Perth. A community adviser appointed by Scotts was the person on the ground who was technically responsible for the day to day management of the community.

Mail connections with the outside world were still irregular. There was no regular mail service, especially for outbound mail as there was no regular air service from Kalgoorlie to Warburton. VJY (still controlled by Health Department) was still the only way of communicating- by transceiver/receiver, with all communications being public to those tuned in at particular times. Charter planes bringing government personnel into the community were not infrequent, but they they did not have a fixed schedule. It may have been for this reason that the preferred method of contact from WD Scott’s head office in Perth with the community adviser was by cassette tape.

The Community Welfare Department was represented by an officer who did not have affiliation with the mission. He was responsibility for overnighting Warburton, the Ngaanyatjarra area and a quite large section of the Pitjantjatjara Lands reaching north east to Giles and east toward the Blackstone and Peterman Ranges. The community also had liaison with Docker River just over the border in the Northern Territory.

From a school viewpoint, we had our own generator which powered our school and the residences. This was particularly handy on the home front, because the price of gas was still astronomical, a cylinder of gas costing the better part of a week’s wage. We had no air conditioning and no heating capacity for the dry, cold winter months. The community was also serviced by a bigger generator which ran far more uninterruptedly than had been the case four years earlier. It had been relocated to a point just beyond the immediate community.

Three out four new and quite elaborate (by outback standards) homes had been built on the southern aspect of the community. These were for some of the staff employed under the application of revamped management. The locals lived as they had in 1970. Nothing had changed in that regard.

Remember the Bouquets

In this day and age we are very quick to criticise, to point out mistakes, to suggest things that could be done better. We are not always appreciated have things that are done well. We are quick on the brickbats but reluctant when it comes to the Boquet’s. We need to remember to be appreciative, to thank people for the jobs that they do and to mean that genuinely. The best way of building atmosphere and harmony within an organisation is to recognise and appreciate the efforts others make.

‘Promise’ not always reality

There’s a lot of conflab and a lot of talk, discussion, a sharing of ideas about what Education is or what it should be. Quite often all that discussion and commentary is little more than hot air. And people brag to each other about what they do, but exaggerate to the extreme. They can do this with impunity because nobody is going to check to ascertain.

Too often, it’s a case of all talk and no action. Too often those to do all the talking are delivering far less than those who keep their council and get on with the job.

Educational Points to Consider

EDUCATIONAL POINTS TO PONDER

The ICAC report and recommendations on the Milingimbi School funding situation and monetary use, raise two very important points. Firstly, school principals and finance managers have to be scrupulously circumspect in the way priorities are established for the use of funds. Secondly, the Department of Education audit processes must involve an examination of school accounts and not be about rubber stamping without checking. A situation like Milingimbi reflects badly on the budgetary management of all schools and that is not fair.

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The decision by the Charles Darwin University Board to reinstate the Diploma of Nursing is very good news. Hopefully the revamped program will have a strong focus on practical skills including bedside manner and relationships with patients. Too often, modern training has a clinical focus but not one that includes the way nurses interact with those being treated.

THE BEST MODEL

Traditionally speaking the hierarchical model of leadership is possibly the oldest and certainly the most enduring. Organisations practice “Top Down “ management. Leadership is exactly the same with the pyramid being the way things are done.

Allow me to recommend (and this is based on practice) the concentric model of leadership. It’s an Asian model, it works well in Australian situations and it is the best.The very best!

Without practising concentric management and making it a living form of operation in my schools, my leadership would have been far less effective than was the case.

Want to know more about concentric Management? I’ll share it in due course.