It’s late 1965. Juggling partying with other students at Oakleigh High School, helping out at home and part time work with studying for my matriculation examinations, I fill out my preferences for university courses – 1 ‘Social Work’ Melbourne University - if I succeed Legacy will provide some support with fees; 2 ‘Economics and Politics’ Monash University. If I succeed, I can take up a ‘Studentship’ with the Education Department, meaning greater independence, however I must complete the Diploma of Education after my Economics degree and will be bonded to work for three years in the country.
I’m accepted for Social Work, but frustratingly have to wait a year until I’m 19 to start. Keen to be independent, I decide to take the Bachelor of Economics and Politics at Monash on a studentship.
It’s ‘O’ week at Monash University 1966. I’m sitting in an auditorium with the new intake when the Vice Chancellor asks us to ‘Look to your right, look to your left. Statistics suggest that one of you won’t be here next year. Please, take your time with us seriously’…. which I did! Walking in to my first Economics 101 lecture, it was clear I was one of few female students studying Economics and Politics. I spend hours in the basement of the Monash Library where the Economics books and journals are to be found, wrestling with reading and formulating the ‘big ideas’ required in to essays to hopefully prove that I understood them. The maths oriented 101, 201 Economics courses prove surmountable with effort; Politics is eye opening, and I thoroughly enjoy units in Economic History, Comparative Industrial Organisation, Agricultural Economics and Comparative Economic Systems. Study is, of course, interspersed with part time jobs, partying and an introduction to student activism. Monash is considered a ‘hotbed’ at this time! I graduate as a young, politically enlightened economist, not en route to Canberra, but to spend a further year at Monash.
"Bachelor of Economics and Politics, Monash University.”
It’s 1969. I find myself, still at Monash, thoroughly enjoying studying Education, from Philosophy of Education and Educational Psychology to my favourites, the ‘Methods of Teaching’ subjects. Placements at Caulfield North Central School, Springvale High School, Murrumbeena High School, are stimulating. I find I love working with teenagers, love staff room environments. However I face a challenge, my first school is to be Heywood High School, 375 k from home, and my boyfriend lives in Melbourne!
"Diploma of Education, Monash University.”
Lots of doors, on lots of classrooms, open as I teach out my ‘bond’ at country schools Heywood near Portland and Yarram High School, before moving back to Melbourne’s Elwood High then teaching in Spain for a year. Those beautiful Spanish doors! A return to country Victoria at Daylesford Tech High School proves to be one of the happiest times of my life and leads to the opening of other doors through an International Teaching Fellowship to Kamloops in British Columbia, Canada. A brief stint at Cheltenham High in Melbourne, then five years at Flemington High School, which includes a part time secondment to teach ‘Methods of Teaching Economics’ at Melbourne University. The opening of this door leads to my achieving a dream, to teach future teachers. During this time, I almost complete a Bachelor of Education then fast track to the Master of Education… a qualification sadly, still ‘in limbo’.
I never cease to enjoy teaching Year 11 Economics, although teaching ‘Matriculation’ Economics is always stressful, if rewarding. (As an aside, often the only woman ‘Commerce’ teacher on the staff, teaching ‘secretarial’ subjects usually fell to me. Learning to type proficiently while teaching also opened doors – I could work as an ‘office’ temp in London! It also proved an asset when computers arrived on the scene, as I was able to adapt over time to new technologies and now manage websites!)
Over twenty years have passed - it's now 1992. A mid-life crisis and concern to work in the areas of social policy and inequality leads me to leave teaching and apply for the Bachelor of Social Work at Melbourne University. This time I enter a course which is traditional for women, non-traditional for men. I love my diverse home group, with class mates aged from 20 to 60 including clever young Sally, an older man with prison experience, and a number of ‘mid-life’ change students like me. I pinch myself - 25 years after putting #1 on my end of high school preference sheet, I’m finally studying Social Work at Melbourne University! I flourish academically, and 13 week placements take me to new work environments, Lakeside Psychiatric Hospital in Ballarat, Springvale Community Health Centre in multicultural outer Melbourne.
Life Stage – Mid Life Evidence – Bachelor of Social Work – Melbourne University.
After graduating, more doors begin to open. I work part time in a poverty related project at Deakin University. Outreach work for Ballarat Community Health Centre in Daylesford, where I still have a miner’s cottage on Wombat Hill, soon expands to a full time role in Ballarat. Five years later, I shift to North East Victoria to be closer to family. A year as a social worker at Centrelink, followed by project work, locum drug and alcohol work, then a welcome return to teaching, after securing work coordinating Community Services work courses at GOTAFE in Wangaratta and Benalla for the next 12 years.
Now retired for decade, I still love learning, love sharing knowledge and skills and experiences, still find a comfort zone in educational settings. I’d secretly love to return to study once again, perhaps finally adding the ‘Masters of Education’ document to my collection of qualifications. Perhaps I could focus on learning in later life? One can but dream! I wonder if anyone else has ever completed a ‘Masters’ degree while at Cooinda?