Hec was born in 1925 in Collingwood and then the family lived in Hawthorn until he was about one and half when his father got a job with the railways, moving them to Dimboola. He has very fond memories of his first years of schooling at Dimboola Primary School, remembering that ‘it wasn’t like going to school in terms of being a chore; it was just fun all the time’. When Hec was in grade four the family moved back to Melbourne and he attended Alfred Crescent Primary School in North Fitzroy. He describes it as a ‘dour horrid place’, contrasting greatly with his early school experiences. Hec then went to Falconer Central School in North Fitzroy. He remembers that the students were streamed and suggests that many were ‘kids who were just waiting ‘till they were fourteen and they would leave’. Hec, however, went on to attend Northcote High School and then, due to the Depression and World War II, postponed further study, taking and took up a job as a junior clerk in the Victorian Railways. When he was eighteen, Hec joined the Air Force and served in the war, before returning to Australia and taking up a place in the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme, recalling that, ‘hundreds of teachers became trained under this scheme’. He discovered that teaching ‘was just made for me; I was as happy as can be’, and he went on to teach geography and accounting at various schools across Victoria. In 1961 Hec received a travelling scholarship from the Education Department and did an Associateship at the Institute of Education in London for a year. Hec studied the ‘teaching of geography at the sixth form level’ and looked at how geography was being taught in schools in the UK. Hec continued to engage in education when he returned to Australia, taking on a variety of roles, including as a teacher at Rusden Teachers College, Assistant Director of Secondary Education and Special Assistant to the Director General. Part of the Assistant Director role involved inspecting schools and observing teachers and their teaching. Hec describes the ways in which inspectors tried to support schools and his own work in developing ‘in-service camps’ and in particular his desire to develop ‘field study for geography’. In all his experience of education, Hec observed that, ‘If you tell a person he’s stupid or she’s stupid, they’ll oblige you, and if you tell groups of kids look you’re hopeless, they’ll be no hopers’. He therefore advocated education that was connected to real events and experiences and not just the ‘test for the sake of a test’.
Primary: Dimboola Primary School (1931–1933)
Primary: Alfred Crescent Primary School, North Fitzroy (1933–1934)
Primary: Falconer Central School, North Fitzroy (1935–1938)