Author and co-author of numerous English texts
How long have you been in the education industry?
I’ve been in education for over forty years. I have spent much of this time teaching English in State comprehensive and selective high schools and TAFE colleges. I have been designing educational resources, writing textbooks and developing curricula for most of my teaching career.
How have you noticed your teaching style change over the years? Why do you think this is?
With the advent of modern technology such as the internet and YouTube, we English teachers
have been able to make our lessons far more interesting and enjoyable. As an example, when teaching the famous “To be or not to be” lines from 'Hamlet', we can have immediate access to great actors such as Laurence Olivier or Kenneth Branagh delivering the speech. While studying the novel “To Kill A Mockingbird' we can give the novel immediacy by showing a relevant scene from the Gregory Peck movie. The use of modern technology has given us limitless opportunities for enriching the understanding of our students.
What is the importance to you of good educational resources?
In our modern world the value of teaching literacy must never be undervalued. As never before, students today and in the future need to be able to read, write, persuade, converse, narrate, argue and engage with others. Modern teaching resources can make this less appealing aspect of learning English more attractive. Today, the use of cartoons, comic strips, photographs and film stills have become an important element of the modern English textbook. Above all, the learning of English must be an enjoyable experience for all students.
What has been your favourite part of writing an education resource?
Literature abounds with exciting and moving descriptions. While writing a textbook, coming upon one of these great scenes has always given me immense joy because I know the students reading the passage will be as greatly moved as I was. After finding a particular passage I usually use it in my own teaching programme and if it works with my classes I know it will work in the classrooms of all other teachers. I am particularly happy with the creative writing techniques set out in our textbooks. I know they work because my selective high school students have told me on many occasions how valuable they are for their writing tasks.
What is your favourite part of being a teacher?
On a good day at school, being an English teacher can be incredibly rewarding. Acting out a Shakespearean play or studying Yeats, Frost, Donne or some other great poet provides the students and the teacher with a very uplifting experience. Having students enjoying their English studies is very satisfying for all teachers.
What do you like to do when you’re not teaching (or writing)?
I usually play tennis. Sometimes we are able to get away to the country and the outdoors for the weekend.
Who are three people, living or dead, you’d love to have dinner with?
I’d like to have dinner with Martin Luther King, Tom Hanks and Melinda Gates.
What is your favourite book and why?
English teachers have many favourite books. I believe one of the great books of literature is Joseph Heller’s anti-war novel, 'Catch 22'. It is both a tragic and hilarious condemnation of war.