Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Story Telling Sunday 3 - July

This year Storytelling Sunday asks you to "pick your precious". This is how Sian described it ...
Start looking around, see what you love. Pick Your Precious is for short story tellers and for long. You can take the idea of simply a photo with a few words; or, if you are a can't-stop-yourself storyteller, you can expand as much as you like. The thing to keep in mind is that at the end of the year you'll have a permanent record of the little things you hold dear - and your family will know why you are holding onto them! Doesn't that sound like it might be worth it? No more "Do you really need that?"
Please join us this year. It only takes a minute and even if you only write a story or two, that will be a few more of your stories written down.  I had a story planned for this month but as it takes place in August I have decided to save it for next month.  Don't worry, I have another story AND a question (more on that later).

A little bit of background for you ...  In Western Australia at the time of this story Primary School went from Year 1 (calendar year you turned six) to Year 7.  High School began in Year 8 and finished at Year 12 (year you turned 17).  Compulsory education finished at the completion of Year 10 and many smaller private schools finished there and fed into bigger High Schools that had the facilities to cope with the demands of the final two years.  I attended one of those smaller private schools from year 2 until year 10.  I then went on to another school for the final two years. These pictures are items that have come out of my shoe box ...

I was blessed to have some fantastic teachers during my school life.  I also had the obligatory awful teachers, but they were far less in number.  I had my favourite teacher twice, once in year 5 and again in year 7.  Mr Mills was the first teacher to actually inspire me to put in some effort.  I was one of those students who found school work easy and was often bored.  He made learning fun and was born to teach.  Mr Mills is now a member of parliament and is showcasing his talents in another arena.  My story today doesn't begin with Mr Mills, but with another, Mr Bender.

I had always admired Mr Bender, and not just because of his formidable height of almost 7'!  He was my Physical Education teacher for the last few years of Primary School.  My least favourite subject was never going to put a teacher in my good books, but as we all attended the same church I already knew that I liked Mr Bender, just not the subject he taught!  When I started High School Mr Bender became a large part of my school life as he also taught Social Studies and my favourite class, Media Studies.  I attended a very small school and we usually had the same teachers each year for each subject.

Assignment Year 8 - It is 26 pages long!
Social Studies is now called S&E (Society and the Environment) by my children but the areas studied remain similar.  It encompassed history, economics, government & politics, geography, and law.  Mr Bender taught us to think, ask questions, and search for the truth.  We learned the finer points of creating well thought out arguments after thoroughly researching the topic.  He organised controversial debates (euthanasia and vivisection among others) and was happy to argue anything from either view point.  I remember many of the lively discussions that were a highlight of almost every class.  I also remember being guilty of taking the opposing point of view just because I could!  He used to say I was going to be a lawyer and he might have been right if my dad wasn't often in need of one at that time (I had no desire to work for free long into adulthood and quickly squashed that idea!).  I was always on the winning team in our debates and I longed to be in a school that had a competitive debate team.

My photography folder - some of the photos are missing :(
I chose to take Media Studies as an elective and over three years Mr Bender also taught us journalism, photography, and videography once a week.  He is a remarkable individual and exposed us all to the need to learn, seek the truth, and then form our own opinions.  At the same time he taught us to respect the opinions of others.  You can always try and persuade someone to agree with your point of view, but we each have the honour of having our own opinions.  His teaching must have had quite an impact as my next school asked me to represent them in a national public speaking competition after I had been there only one year!

We put together a newspaper at the end of our Journalism unit
To this day I still love to learn and formulate my own points of view.  I gather news from a variety of sources hoping that the truth will be buried somewhere in all of the reports.  I am very grateful for the lessons Mr Bender taught me.  It was more than just facts and figures, he made everything come alive.

If you enjoy reading snapshots of other peoples' lives head on over to Sian and read a few more stories.  They are always enjoyable :)

I also promised you a question.  It has been circling around in my head for the past week and I would like to hear your opinion if you have one.  At what time in our lives do you think we are ready to learn to think and formulate our own point of view?  Do you think that this could be taught in Primary school (or its equivalent), or do you think it needs the maturity that comes with a certain age?  Or do you think something entirely different?  Is there a specific time that most of us would be open to learn independence of thought? Do you remember when, if ever, that you became a truth seeker?  Please don't feel obligated to answer but I would welcome your thoughts.  I am curious :)



  1. A very inspiring story today! You collect like I do, by the looks of things and I always enjoy seeing what you have to pull off a shelf and share because the pictures of your Precious always pull me in. Great stuff!

    Independent thought? Well, Little E definitely has his own point of view and has had for some time, and my own kids would have been the same at his age of four. I have always made a point of listening to them and trying to draw out what they think and offer them viewpoints to consider. My big phrase when they were younger was "it's not big or clever to sneer at other peoples's choices" and I'm hoping that is sticking!

  2. I loved this story. You were so fortunate to have such an inspiring teacher in high school. I really never found such a person until I went to university. I taught fifth graders for many years, and although many of them parroted the views they heard at home, some of them were very definitely forming and expressing their unique opinions at ten years old.

  3. I love this story, it's sounds like you really enjoyed your time at school. I think we should learn to think and formulate our own point of view from a young age so that we can grow, develop and understand how other people have formulated their point of view. For me there are never 2 sides to a story, there's always at least 8 :) x

  4. How lovely to see your school work and hear who inspired you. I sometimes hear one of mine say something and think you heard your dad say that...i have always tried to encourage them to have their own opinions and ideas though and from a young age too x

  5. I think this depends entirely on the child and motivation. I think at a young age most children are very willing to form their own opinions and forge their own path. Unfortunately (at least here in the U.S.) I think the school system beats that natural instinct out of them. It encourages conformity, as does peer pressure. If there were more teachers like Mr. Bender, who could believably argue both sides of an issue, maybe more children would be raised with tolerance and understanding and our political system wouldn't be a steaming cauldron of ignorance, intolerance, and blind adherence to ideals without questioning. Wow! Didn't know your question would elicit that stream of thought from me!

  6. Loved your story of school life in Australia. Mr Bender was certainly a prominent figure!
    I had a Victorian style upbringing from my parents and schools plus was easily led as a youngster. I have only in the last few years begun to form my own views and opinions and believe in myself as a person of worth. Hope this helps.

  7. Its an interesting question... I think it should be taught from primary but I certainly don't think all children are ready to accept it until much later! I'm glad you found someone to inspire you.

  8. I think children nowadays are certainly encouraged to formulate views and opinions from an early age (in the UK school system at least....IF you have the right teacher!!)...some children find it a difficult concept to grasp however and come to it later ....I have always tried to instil in mine, that there are two sides to every story!
    Alison xx

  9. I would have loved to have a photography class in grade school or high school. I actually was a very successful competitive debater in high school! I think kids vary on when they really can formulate their own sophisticated view. My son (just graduated high school) only got there this last year, but my daughter (three years his junior and not as "successful" a student) has been there for several years already.

  10. I believe a child can be taught to trust their own emotions and thoughts from a very early age, but too often they aren't. To ensure that and to maintain their natural love of learning was a big part of why we chose to home school. Thanks for sharing your memories of school. What a lovely tribute to a definitely precious teacher!


Thanks for taking the time to brighten my day :-)
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