From the red brick pioneering years Clayton North Primary School, to the 'baby boomer' needed grey cement blocked 'Brown's Road' Clayton Primary School in Grade 3 a transition had to be made, thankfully to the warm welcome and happy classroom of Mrs Farr, followed by Mr Jackman, Mr Humphries and Mr Manzie. Then another transition to Malvern Girls Secondary School.
The class sizes during my childhood were enormous, often up to 50 children, however somehow I remember the schools as happy communities, remember my parents attending 'parent teacher nights' and working hard so that we could 'get an education'.
The year at Oakleigh High linked me back to students I'd been at Clayton North with so many years before - it was their main feeder school. Somehow this helped me to fit in quickly to a welcoming, socially active group of students who'd been at school together for many years. Pauline Bailey, our German for Beginners convenor, and Ivan Durrant, the artist who formerly farmed, lived and brought up his family in the Benalla area, were both in this 'Year 12 community'. It was wonderful to connect up with them again when I arrived in Benalla.
University is usually an example of a 'community or communities of interest', but for me it was also within my geographic community. My sister was a secretary there, I could walk to lectures, my babysitting jobs were often for University lecturers living in the area. The University 'pub', the Nott (Nottinghill Pub), was our local pub. My communities of interest were the other students in my lectures and tutorials, which again included Ivan Durrant from Oakleigh High, and other students like me, although often from rural communities, on teaching studentships. Monash was very active politically at the time, with activists such as Albert Langer and the student newspaper, Lot's Wife, featuring Michael Leunig and other creative radicals, challenging our ideas Maharishi Yogi, who influenced the Beatles, also visited our campus at the time. I think I was curious to see him, which I did from a distance, and wonder whether there was a slight dint to my fairly conservative view of life as a result. The decision to participate in a student demonstration, overnight 'sit in' at the university library to prevent funding cuts to the library, was one of my first 'rebellions'...a first example of involvement with 'a community of interest' concerned about education reflected throughout my life. Two other 'communities of interest' I belonged to at University were 'Modern Dance' and 'Social Involvement', reflecting my years studying ballet at Miss Kenyon's, and then Heather Scott's Ballet Schools in Clayton; and also my long term concern about social justice.
Then came twenty years or so of teaching in the state school system. I became immersed in school communities for both working and social life in both city and country schools, but had much more involvement with the geographic community in the rural schools of Heywood, Yarram and Daylesford, particularly Daylesford (and much later Benalla), where I participated in the local arts cooperative. Two memorable school communities made a particular effort to help new teachers make a transition to their communities were Heywood, where we were taken on an excursion which included a visit to a sheep station, complete with peacock roaming homestead garden, during shearing; and Flemington, where we were taken to a flat in one of the top floors of a public housing high rise estate.
In each of these schools, and later on after a decade's break to study and work as a social worker followed by a return to teaching at GOTAFE, became immersed in the educational community. Concerned about teaching conditions, which to me represented increased learning conditions for students, I was always an active union member - another 'community of interest'. I was also interested in curriculum development. Communities of interest included like minded teachers who enjoyed sharing ideas, preparing newsletter articles and setting up conference sessions for the Victorian Commercial Teacher's Associations annual conference. A key and treasured outcome of this period was the development of a new, progressive curriculum for Year 11 Economics which I'm still very passionate about!
It seems as if there's a lot to write about! This story is getting far too long, and I still haven't spoken about the educational communities of Madrid in Spain and Kamloops in British Columbia in which I was also in the 'expat' community; my years at GOTAFE, or the educational community of U3A Benalla which immerses me and is so important to me. Perhaps another time!