Robert was born in 1940 and grew up just outside Ballarat on a farm that had been in the family for a number of generations. He attended the one-teacher Invermay primary school and remembers the teacher fondly, a man ‘to whom I am really indebted in many, many respects … he inculcated in us humane values’. He went on to Ballarat High School, initially boarding with his mother’s aunts, then returning to the family farm after his father’s death in 1955, from whence he cycled eight miles each day to school, after helping milk the cows. He enjoyed his time at Ballarat High, being placed in the ‘professional stream’ and studying history, English, literature and Latin for his Matriculation. He notes the high academic standards of his education at Ballarat High School and comments on the quality of teachers, particularly his ‘outstanding Junior Latin teacher’, who shared aspects of his work with refugees and migrants. Robert suggests the teacher’s students ‘were sort of imbued with a very early notion of multiculturalism’ through this experience. Robert attended the University of Melbourne, studying Arts Honours in English and History and being supported on a secondary studentship before completing his tertiary studies with a Diploma of Education. His first teaching assignment was at Geelong High School for three years, after which he spent the next three years in Europe doing an assortment of work, including teaching in London. When he returned to Australia he taught at Reservoir High School and then became Head of English at Northcote High School in 1973. He taught there for fifteen years, then moved to St. John’s Greek Orthodox College in Preston for six years before, returning to Northcote High School in 1997, and retiring in 2004. Of his own teaching career Robert has many reflections and comparisons. At Northcote, he and some other teachers started to adapt the curriculum to suit the needs of their students (particularly the large Greek population at Northcote) and include more Australian literary content. He also states that it is in History that he noticed a ‘major change’ over time. He believes that the ‘inclusion and acknowledgement of the Aboriginal History of Australia is important and beneficial and only right’ and that the breadth of History offered to students is much better than when he was at school.
Primary: Invermay State School number 882 (late 1940s)