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March 20, 2002
Old haunts and hold the taunts
On Sunday I went to the Kingswood College Open Day, and had a good look around. The school has changed in the twenty years since I left, but the essential spirit of the place is still very much there. And the spirit seems durable: a couple of years ago I met a few former students who'd been there in the forties and fifties, and they reported experiences very similar to mine.
The motto of the school appeared to be "if you find something that you want to do, then that's great, and we'll support you and encourage you in any way we can. And if you don't find something you want to do, then that's also okay, because we'll still like you." (I'm sure this would make an impressive school motto, especially in Latin.)
So Kingswood was one of those rare schools that seemed to actually like its students, and to care about them, and to be interested in them. It was a very open and tolerant place, which meant that I was in for quite a shock when I arrived in the adult world. But, over time, I've learnt to adjust to the adult world, and I remain very glad that I spent six years at Kingswood.
One quick story about the place. When I was in Year 11 or 12, the school screened Woodstock, the three and a half hour documentary-with-incredible-music that perhaps best captures the spirit of the Sixties. Max Edwards, one of the teachers, attended the screening wearing a hippie outfit, with a tie-dye tshirt and white pants with blaring headlines printed in random directions on them. Max, in case you're wondering, taught economics.
Not long after this, I started turning up at classes wearing a kaftan. This isn't recommended at normal schools, as it indicates an availability to have senseless violence aimed at your head. (And also at whatever body parts the kaftan covered, I guess.) But at Kingswood, it was fine, because no one cared.
Other people were wearing leather jackets and safety pins, and no one cared about that, either. It was a very easygoing and very tolerant place; a bit like Woodstock in capsule form. It was a little fragment of the Sixties tucked away in Box Hill South, where the Seventies wouldn't even think to look.
One of the things I did on Sunday was talk to various teachers, including Peter Alderton, the Media Studies teacher. Turns out that one of the things he teaches is story structure, which is a subject that I've been reading and thinking about for twenty years. And I had no idea that it was even possible to study such a thing, and certainly not in a high school. Peter is also in charge of a small television studio, and a bank of computers which run Photoshop and Dreamweaver. I was very impressed with all of this, but also duly noted that the small, self-contained building where he teaches is located in what used to be the Year 8 shower block. Omnia mutantur nos et mutamur in illis ...
At one point in my conversation with Peter I thought about how different my life would have been if I'd studied story structure at school. At another point I thought "this is what I should be teaching."
Wednesday night and the week's teaching is over, apart from the Saturday morning drama class. After my four hour class today I walked into the city, and then walked to Richmond, then bought a heavy pile of groceries, and then walked back to Fitzroy. Just trying to get fitter, and trying to get ready for the marathon walk that I'm doing on Sunday. I'm now completely exhausted, so that's an achievement of some kind, I guess.
Looking forward to being in Sydney next week. It's been a year or something since I've been there, and that's way too long.Posted by Sean Hegarty at 11:42 PM in the Educational category | Comments (0)
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