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inspire their learning

November 6, 2012

This is where we sat on a boardwalk for tea this morning – welcome to Bathers Beach in Fremantle. One 35 minute train trip from Perth, and you’ve arrived: Yachts, palms, pines and salt spray. The blue building on the left was once upon a time McDonald’s, and I would  devise lunchtime drop-ins with students on excursion. The Maritime Museum is nearby:

And, yes, there are shipwreck tales, mementoes and curiosities drawing on Freo’s history as a port as well as a convict establishment; their labour in limestone pits shaped the character of many buildings. Outside, tucked away beside the path, there’s even a bather-in-bronze:

Freo is a lively hub of trade, academic studies (Notre Dame University peppers the heart of this town), cafes and ocean pursuits which appeals to tourists, but my trip was of a more fundamental nature since we stocked up on pantry treats from Manna and Kakulas Sister.

The actual train journey and my thinking process while travelling are the intended destinations of this blog post. Pardon the distraction of scenery, such as lunch with a Russian freighter beside the wharf:

Along with another mermaid spotted in a crevice of the Victoria Hall, which used to be a Salvation’s Army store, and was then briefly reincarnated as a theatre:

While I carted my camera to catalogue sights, thinking was courtesy of Postman & Weingartner’s seminal text Teaching as a Subversive Activity – first published in 1969 which I unearthed in the UWA library; this patched Penguin Education Special kept me engrossed even as we waited on our home-station at 8.15.

Where has this book been all my teaching life? Clearly, I’ve been missing out…

From Crap Detecting to McLuhan’s message of mediums (enter stage right my favourite university lecturer, John Fiske, of Introduction to Communication Studies fame, like Banquo’s ghost there’s always space for him at a dining or conference table) along with the pursuit of relevance, evaluating what’s worth knowing – not a lot, really, unless you’re uncovering the learner’s needs in this transaction – to languaging (ouch, these boys don’t much like English teachers; take cover!) and – trip home by now – a prescient grappling with the tentacled entity that is “the media” codified as Strategies for Survival yet quaintly defining “nuclear-space-age-survival”.

What would they make of the internet? More concepts, I suppose. But our purpose as educators is still

…to help all students develop built-in, shockproof crap detectors as basic equipment in their survival kits (Postman & Weingarner, 1971. p. 204).

Aye to that.

Which gives me much heartsong as I plan for tomorrow’s curriculum innovation session with our G&T learning community. Not lamplighting, cultivating, illuminating or muscle building, no; the art seems to be what our students so aptly described at last week’s Imagineering Think Tank:

a future of flattened classroom wallsanywhere, anytime, anyhow learning with global collaboration, connectivity and creative tools to inspire their learning.


Postman, N. & Weingartner, C. (1971). Teaching as a subversive activity. Middlesex, England: Penguin.


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