Posted in Portraits, Teaching

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I haven’t taught pre-service teachers for what seems like a long time … and out of the blue, a former colleague rings and asks if I want to teach a unit on engagement! Yay. The next week I start teaching. One student writes in his introduction: ‘Sharon, you were the most respected and most feared lecturer we had. It is poetically fitting that you are teaching me in my final year, as you also taught me in my first year.’

I had recognised this student’s name as soon as I saw it. As all teachers know, some students make an immediate impression on you. When the students are young, it’s often the students who challenge you the most that make the most impression – those students who don’t sit still, who don’t comply quickly, who ask lots of (what appear to be irrelevant) questions … the students school isn’t designed for. They remain with you for many years, and even ten years later you talk about them fondly (or with residual despair).

When the students are older the ones who make an impression are those who ask lots of questions, who bring a different perspective to class discussions, who don’t sit still in their thinking; the ones who develop tremendous resilience and now call themselves ‘teacher’ effortlessly, when initially that word reached their lips with great reluctance and unease.

A little over ten years ago I walked into the Week 1 tutorial and asked the students why they chose to study teaching. One student, a slightly chubby redhead, said that she’d wanted to be a paramedic. ‘Why didn’t you do that then?’ I asked, somewhat bluntly. Some weeks later I noticed she wasn’t in the lecture. The next week I ‘marched’ (according to her) her to my office to talk to her about the importance of regular attendance. (When you have potential, it’s a shame to waste it.)  I taught her again in 3rd year, and then again in 4th year where her response to a literacy paper I had asked students to write was outstanding.

But even though students make an impression on you, at the time you’re teaching them, you don’t expect to end up lying on the grass under an umbrella listening to Ben Abraham and Archie Roach (as warm-up acts for Missy Higgins) on a hot summer’s afternoon in late January with them. Unless they’re Alison, the former slightly chubby redhead, who had come to stay for the weekend.

And then the next day, Alison asks me if I can take her photo.

Wouldn’t that be a great project … to return to all the memorable students I’ve taught and do a photography shoot with them! Who’s up for it?

Posted in Life, Melbourne

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I was in Melbourne’s Bourke St mall last weekend, listening to Gareth, a fiercely talented pianist. I looked up and noticed this man on the edges of the crowd. The next day he was there again, listening to Gareth, hovering – drawn by the beautiful music, yet seeming reluctant to get too close.

Posted in Life, Travel

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Antony, from Paris, decided, at the age of 20, to travel the world. He’s now 23 and has been to 40 countries. When I asked his favourite, he listed about ten in quick succession.

Wherever he goes, Antony lays his map out, with photos of his travels around the edge, and waits for people to be curious enough to talk to him. There’s a cap for donations – to help support his journey – and it seems that that’s how he gets by. A crowd-funding scheme that’s quite low-tech. But what an adventure!

Posted in Life, Portraits

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I took this photo on the sly – which isn’t my usual style. I usually like to make sure that my subjects know I’m photographing them … so when I checked it to see what he looked like on camera, I asked if I could take his photo. He shrugged – I’m not sure if he was noncommittal or just didn’t understand me. I asked his name and he shrugged again. I like to think that he didn’t speak English rather than him wanting to ignore me.

But he has a great face, doesn’t he?

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There’s another photo of him on my Instagram account.