Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Addicted to Discworld

Oh I am so addicted to Discworld, it is not funny (that is my addiction is not funny - the books are very funny). One of my coleagues who lectures English told me about an interview on Radio National's The Book Show with Terry Pratchett.


Reading the transcript, one sentence made me leap from my seat and start drooling with anticipation for his next book: Unseen Academicals. Which is about football in Discworld, and Terry is talking about the plot and subplots and says: "if I referred to two supports' clubs, alike in villainy."

Ah the prose, the tempo...

What a piece of work man is

Life can be odd. I hate getting places late, however sometimes it can not be avoided. Take today for example I had to take my car to the panel-beaters to get a quote and then drive to work, so I was about an hour late.

Usually I am one of the first in the building, however being an hour late meant that everyone else was already at their desks and I had a choice of two stair cases to use. One which would advoid everyone, and another one which would make me go past everyone. I decided to go past everyone one.

Which meant that I said hello to about nine different people and then chatted with them all for five mins or so, which meant that I didn’t get to my desk for another thirty minutes. It was a great thirty minutes, talking to Diana about cars, Anna about coffee, Chris about powerful words.

So I guess, sometimes it is okay to arrive late.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008


Acting is a funny business, especially when plays are so poetic. Every line is beautifully written and there is an extraordinary amount of real/imagined pressure to get every line word perfect. And because of this pressure I think a lot of people cracked. However we all covered for each other so the audience did not realise that we stuffed up. There was one piece where I had to do three characters lines, but it worked. Here is a snippet which we got correct, with me as the voice:

Child: Look

Voice: Says a child to her mother as they pass by the window of Schooner House

Child: Captain Cat is crying

Voice: Captain Cat is crying

Captain Cat: Come back, come back

Voice: Up the silences and echoes of the passages of the eternal night

Child: He’s crying all over his nose

Voice: Says the child. Mother and child walk on down the street

Child: He’s got a nose like a strawberry

Voice: The child says, and then she forgets him too. She sees in the still middle of the blue bagged bay No Good Boyo fishing from the Zanzibar.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Ranting and Raving

I need to rant and rave. My job at work has almost no job satisfaction and is one of the hardest at the university. I have to find Secondary Schools for these students to undertake their teaching rounds at.

Sounds easy, yes? Well it is not. First of all each student has two teaching methods which can be; English, Humanities, Media, IT, Maths, Science, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Psychology, PE, Health, HomeEconomics, ESL and LOTE and the school has to have both of the methods. Secondly the majority of the schools don’t want the students. Also in schools new teachers now are paired up with experienced teachers so they have some one to mentor them which has resulted in a lot of experienced teachers not taking student-teachers as they are already looking after beginning teachers. Thirdly the pay for the supervising teachers is crap and hasn’t changed since the 1970s.

Dispite this the majority of student-teachers get placed in schools quite quickly, however the final 10% takes a long time. You can be on the phone, email and fax machine all day everyday for months tring to find a suitable school for them. And when you are not phoning, emailing and faxing I have the poor worried students in my office calming them down, explaining that I am doing everything that I can and that I will call and email them as soon as I know.

I find schools for three programs of future secondary school teachers, the first two programs are run by the university faculty that I am located in, and I keep everyone abreast of my progress. The last group I find secondary schools for is run by a different university faculty which is located up the other end of the university.

The academic incharge of the program, I will call Crowley, (Named after a likeable devil in a book by Neil Gaimon and Terry Pratchett, and also an excellent teacher that taught me at highschool). When the students finished their teaching rounds I noted a problem and asked Crowley what was going on here. And I got a reply that said: “this was an outcome of my frustration with what I saw as a lack of movement in the placement of the last 7-8 of our students last semester”.

Now Crowley, I was on the phone every day calling up and begging new schools to get on board. I was emailing other schools with whom I have built up a great reputation and who I know to be prompt with emails. And when I wasn’t emailing and telephoning I was faxing further schools. Now schools cannot and do not get back to you within an hour. The coordinator at the school has to find suitable staff to take the student teachers, then the coordinator often has to cajole the staff into taking them, sometimes they have to check with the principal to make sure it is okay. This does not happen immediately. And I have a policy of leaving no more than one phone message on a coordinators phone per day. I can not afford to be seen as badgering or nagging the schools or they will not take any students.

You state that you gave me the names of two schools who will take two students each and that I did not contact them. I contacted them every two days for weeks without getting a response. Then when you make decisions you need to keep me in the loop.

I like you Crowley, you're a good man, and a excelent teacher. It is great to see your interaction with your students and the care and love you have for them. However we have a problem. We have to talk better, to communicate better. This includes answering emails and if a decision needs to be made, making it together. Prehaps dropping by my office more often.

There are days when I want to quit from this job - usually when I have been called incompetent. But in two years only four students have not been able to start their teaching rounds at the right time. Three of the students started one day late, and the fourth two days late. When other universities have scores of students not placed after three weeks from their supposed start date, there must be something that I am doing right.

My predecessor had a sign on her door saying that it was normal for students to start weeks late. I have never used that sign and never will. I want our students to become excelent teachers of my kids, and my friends' kids who will become the leaders of the land. I care for all of my students and want them all to suceed.

Yours sincerely,
Out of the Minds of Andrews

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

White Walls

Art Galleries look so sad when they are empty.

My friend E runs an art gallery and wants to have an exhibition of different modes of performance, and she asked me to perform a small piece or two. I said yes, and promptly went to the art gallery yesterday to have a look at the space.

The previous exhibition had just been removed and the entire walls were just covered in white paint. It was so sad. I wanted to get a bucket of paint and just through it all over the room. Then I started thinking, it is not sadness, more intrepidly waiting for something to happen.

Whilst my two monologues wont colour the walls physically, hopefully they will paint pictures in the minds of the audience. And the other artists/performers will throw light, colour, bednobs and broomsticks around the gallery.

Friday, 10 October 2008

There was a Redback on the Toilet Seat

There was a redback on the toilet seat,
When I was there last night.
I didn't see him in the dark,
But boy I felt his bite.
I jumped up high into the air,
And when I hit the ground.
That crafty redback spider,
Wasn't nowhere to be found.

I rushed into the mrs,
Told her just where I'd been bit.
And she grabbed my cutthroat razor,
And I nearly took a fit.
I said 'Forget what's on your mind,
And call a doctor please.
For I've got a feeling that your cure,
Is worse than the disease.'

There was a redback on the toilet seat,
When I was there last night.
I didn't see him in the dark,
But boy I felt his bite.
And now I'm here in hospital,
A sad and sorry plight.
And I curse the redback spider,
On the toilet seat last night.

I can't lie down, I cant' sit up I don't know what to do.
The nurses think it's funny but that's not my point of view.
I tell you it's embarrasing and that's to say the least,
For I'm too sick to eat a bite,
While the spider had a feast.

And when I get back home again, I'll tell you what I'll do.
I'll make that Redback suffer for the pain I'm going through.
I've had so many needles, I'm looking like a siv.
I promise you that redback hasn't very long to live.

There was a redback on the toilet seat,
When I was there last night.
I didn't see him in the dark,
But boy I felt his bite.
And now I'm here in hospital,
A sad and sorry plight.
And I curse the redback spider,
On the toilet seat last night.

Traditional Australian Song - Redback on the toilet seat - by Ralph Ernest 'Slim' Newton 1971

- Outofthemindsofandrews, educating others since 1981

Friday, 3 October 2008


Caught up with Henry and Huw today, the three musketeers - they never called us. Beautiful food at Greek Cafe. Dips and chips and chocolate. Corner of Lonsdale and Russel. The coffee fresh and fragent. The smell of eucalyptus sented rain gently wafting through the doors. Passers by skipping in puddles and passengers singing in trams. Who could ask for anything more than good friends, food and drink.