My years as a Bush Schoolie Pt7

My years as a Bush Schoolie Pt7

7 of 8, SS Natya N0. 4048 1923-25

Part 7 - A Formidable Spirit

I was surprised that 90% of the children that I taught at Natya in those years came back to the "Back to Natya" in 1986. Nearly 90% of them were there, and they have all done well in life.

I am very proud of the ones who had a tough time trying to learn - some lived in a bag hut, which must have made life difficult, and they told me that, "Mum made the soup of frankfurts". They'd had a very rough life, and they've all done well, and are good Australian citizens - what more can you ask?

Teacher in little rural schools at that time had no complaints about the school, but many had difficulty getting to school, and there were problems where they boarded.

We were all very well-trained and very capable - I think we were all very good teachers. The children were great, and the schools were quite adequate, and so we were very happy with those aspects.

As a rule, the inspectors were a great help to us, but the conditions of our social life made for great loneliness.

The Education Department were great to us and they were "tops" with me. They understood the problems that young teachers had.

I liked rural teaching, and if I hadn't got married I would have applied for another country school. I liked the feeling that I'm in control - I'm the one who says what has to be done. It might have been ego, but I liked to run my own school. I liked to run it my way, and I liked to be elastic with my program. I liked the running of a rural school - the method - I like that, nobody saying, "You've got to do it this way or that way".

I had to solve problems too - I had to sit down at night, after the children had gone and say to myself, "I didn't do the right thing today - what should I have done? There must have been another way to tackle it than that". And that's what helped me grow - the way I tackled my problems.

I had problems getting through to children in mathematics, and being more inclined to history, geography and English. I was all right at maths but I was slow - I thought to myself, I will sit down and I'll find an easier way to teach that, and I used to work out my system myself. I suppose a maths teacher would say, "No, don't teach it like that way," but I did, and I got results. Any child that I taught a certain kind of maths always got it right, and especially algebra, because I had to go through it myself, step by step.

And in history I'd say to myself, "How can I make this more interesting? What do I know that I can get their interest in that, so that they will remember it?"

I think that teaching in a rural school with multi grades was much more interesting than a straight grade - but more difficult. Once you got into the rhythm of it, you could manage really well. But you had to do a lot of preparation so that your organisation went smoothly.

Sometimes you had to use monitors, either in correcting work or in giving out books or worksheets to the children.

I liked the rhythm of the little rural school - the secret is a good program, good planning, and know your children and their capabilities. You should know what they like and their capacity. I remember painting lime stones for a little grade 2 child who couldn't count.

You get to know the children so well that you know their "stumbling blocks". I liked a rural school because you got to know your pupils so very, very well, and the parents too. A teacher can always make lessons interesting for children - even the dullest subject, you can make interesting, especially history and geography.

It was a part of my life that I'm glad I've gone through - I think it made a different person of me. You see, meeting those people widened my horizon, because I was fairly narrowly brought up. I only mixed with church people and my home environment - I'd only mixed with a certain type of person - school people and church; and there I was, flung into somewhere where many took a drink and there were no church services. It was good for me to mix with these people.

I was very impressed with the spirit of those people, who were battling along against insurmountable odds.

The people were very friendly and quit a few of the young men asked me to go to the dances - I generally liked the ones who had a motor car.

They really welcomed me into the community, and there was no nastiness there at all.

The people in the Mallee are very friendly; even today, they are well-known for their friendliness.