Barry decided when he was eleven that he wanted to be a teacher. This was quite an aberration in his family; his father was a labourer for the Board of Works and ‘no one in our extended family had ever been to university’. He received a studentship to the University of Melbourne, which he noted ‘was the only way working-class boys could get into the university in those days’. His first teaching position was at Glenroy Technical College where he taught English and Social Studies. He had a keen interest in remedial English teaching and, after four years at Glenroy Tech, he did a training year at the Psychology Branch. His teaching experience and training in psychology enabled him to develop an interest in pedagogy that involved the students in their classes rather than dictating to them: Barry encouraged the students to write and then use their writing as a basis for their reading. His career included many varied roles in education, curriculum and advocacy – he sat on the Committee for Teaching English to Remedial Students (CTERS) and later became executive officer; he wrote about English teaching; organised a set of readers to be written by ‘a whole bunch of prominent Australian writers’; and tutored remedial English at the University of Melbourne. He was also on the Victorian Association for the Teaching of English Committee and was president from 1978 to 1980. Barry observed much change in education during his career and noted the ‘decision to allow schools to develop their own curriculum’ as ‘the most dramatic change’. He also remembers there was a lot of ‘experimentation’ going on in the early 1970s and that there was recognition that ‘relationships are actually at the core of good teaching’.
For more on Barry's life and careers, see his website: In This My 70th Year