The Sociology of A Place To Call Home Part 11
by Sandshoe (Honshades)
I was identified some years ago by a former student that she and I were likely in the same year at the TTC in Townsville. She messaged me we had so much fun.
I lived in my new rental half-house in Townsville alongside a family with small children. My neighbours were tenants. I liked their presence. Our louvred home sat squat at distance from other properties in a spread of dark and dank green lawn, bungalow-like although covered in as if wrapped in sheets of fibre board as after-thought. My residence was dark and quiet inside. Others might see gloom. I liked my half-world within a world and its promise of sanctuary.
The nature of letting agency is to never reveal the downside of low cost
rent unless it is blatant. Legislation need is the enshrinement of the principle of disclosure without exception where a domicile is a health risk.
I never opened the windows. The rooms filled with mosquitoes otherwise. Before I left to go to College, I lit two mosquito coils in each room. When I came home in the late afternoon, where linoleum had been visible was a black carpet of mosquito carcases. The floor had to be swept and the broom cleaned. I lit a coil in each room. I went to bed early. I swept the floors first thing. I lit a coil in each room. The coils I lit first thing were not burned out when I set up the two further coils in each room before I left for College.
The heat and humidity were terrible. I feared the coil smoke in the atmosphere would kill me as surely as mosquitos.
I contracted an infection in my left ear. I found a medical practice. In consultation I was coaxed out of anxiety to accept the treatment procedures included syringing my ear. Two years before as result of
mismanagement of the consequences of a cane beetle (lepidiota frenchii) flying into my left ear, I ended up in surgery and hospitalised for a week, surgery near four hours according to a nurse.
I wondered how gruelling for the ear, nose and throat specialist who was surgeon.
I had come home from a square dance at the school my final High School exams over. Someone had left the bathroom light on and the window open. I walked through a beetle swarm in the bathroom. My parents woke to the sound of my screaming without stop as the beetle’s scrabble tore at my left drum. My father put end to the agony I was in by pouring methylated spirits into my ear. Our doctor sartorial in his pyjamas at his residence and attached practice attempted to dislodge the dead beetle.
I felt the drum bulge outward. I feared wrong wrong wrong. The drum was damaged further and although he had not extracted the beetle, the
doctor syringed my ear until I insisted he stop. My father attempted to rebuke me. I knew better. Requisite was a specialist. The beetle as it transpired was in pieces in my ear drum and wherever else.
That I accepted the advice of my new Townsville doctor treatment was to syringe was result of his competent management of my anxiety with the help of a cast of ancillary staff. He prescribed antibiotics after I was grateful.
The first or subsequent day of TTC, the class assembled, we were advised a Deputy stand-in for our Senior Administrator would be speaking to us. I supposed housekeeping and an address about course structure.
He was there for the reason we all might wonder to tell us exactly what we were. We were failures. He curled his lip. We were nothing but stumblebums.
He leaned forward to impress on us what we were. We would all know he suggested. We would not be there if we were anything else. He
repeated stumblebums. I did not know I was one, not knowing the word or that everybody else in the group was. I glanced around and saw rows of impassive faces. My gorge began rising.
We were to know our place. He quivered with indignation. We could not expect to find the same facilities we had left where we had come from (sneer) because we were pioneers. We were at the beginning of an important future, this was our project. We would work.
We would find we did not have a big library. We would have a fine library. We had to understand these were early days. The University is over there, he waved his hand.
I did not exactly know where, even though I was a High School attendee there.
We would think we could just come and go as we wanted, but no. We were not to be found there (sneer), we were not to go there. We were here. This was our place. He waved his hand. We had wasted our time
enough. We got on with it. We were to make the best of the opportunity we were given to make something of ourselves instead of being failures, stumblebums.
I do not know what he said about housekeeping and course structure. No idea anymore. I was shattered.
When the group filed out onto the verandah every face was impassive still. I feel acute embarrassment. I came out through the door enraged. I see myself standing aside on the verandah with my hands part out-stretched and withdrawing them, helpless, seeing person after person walk by me as if I was not there, disengaged to say nothing, respond to nothing. I expected a huddle of protestors. I drew the parallel I was in a militarised zone that reflected Lavarack army barracks was somewhere in the vicinity.
I remembered the coup at the beginning of my last two years at High School.
Discussion that led to it had been concern each of us felt about the way we might be treated by a teacher assigned to one of our subjects. He had graduated to teach High School. None of us had him as a class teacher at Primary School. We each because of his reputation he was a bully had
thought we dodged a bullet. We did not want fear to stand in the way of our ambitious resolve to do well and matriculate. We decided to set down day one our collective concern and expectation we would be treated well.
Had we experienced behaviour such as I had as introduction to teacher training I believe we would without exception have stood up and walked out of the room. It was the resolve between us at High School we would were we unsuccessful. That one of us was appointed to introduce the subject and I to address the teacher being clear I was appointee remains one of the highlights of my experience because each of us committed to achieve an end greater than any individual end. We eliminated fear.
Reflection suggests consideration of financing if teacher trainees lost by rebellion their second chance to acquire qualification or, as we were, partial qualification.
A survey of the socio-economic backgrounds of tertiatry students in 1967 suggested medical students came from the highest and teacher trainees from the lowest (D.D.Anderson and J.S. Western from Pattern of Participation in Australian Post-Secondary Education) and were less likely than university students to have fathers in professional occupations.
In the 1930s it was said the majority of students in the arts and science pass courses came from public schools because, according to one La
Nauze, most of them were student teachers paid by the State Education Department (D. Anderson, Department of Sociology, Research School of Social Sciences in “Who Gets Ahead?’1983).
Anderson suggested nothing changed and uses the word I did to describe my regard for my Fellowship, lucrative, in reference to studentships paid by the State Education Departments in the 50s and 60s. I note his claim former State school students at University less commonly made applications to do Honours than fomer private school candidates because Education studentship holders were “directed to pass and broader degrees”. He extrapolates:
…and for quite some time universities were training far more students for the teaching profession than for all the other professions combined. For the first time all qualified students were not able to gain admission. Competitive quotas were filled according to what was euphemistically called ‘order of merit’: it was based on aggregate examination marks.
I emphasise teacher trainees did not receive an education at University that was different from any other student’s regard to individual subjects. I received no formal training in either education systems or teaching methodology at University. None could be anticipated. I was, simply, an Arts under-graduate.
The Queensland Government across the board spent $34.51 per head of population on education 1966-1967 which calculates with inflation to an equivalence of $421.66.
About $46.00 per head was paid to the school for each student enrolled in the last two years of Secondary School which calculates to $562.05.
In 2016, the Queensland State Government allocated $2, 635.00 per head to Secondary Schools.
My lived experience lends my bias belief Seniors exiting school in 1967 did not proceed to employment, apprenticeships or tertiary education well equipped for the experiences that would be theirs, a number separated from home influence or as in my case result of legislated further dislocation from familiar territory, services, public transport, site of failure.
State government poltical policies and educational priorities made effective through budgetary and finanial controls on state departments of education were perceived to have the most influence on state supply of
teachers 1956-1978 (Geoffrey Burkhardt, Canberra College of Advanced Education in ‘Changes in Factors Influencing The Markets For State Government Teachers in Australia’).
Consider the resourcing of teacher training. Staff at the four Queensland Teacher’s Colleges in 1970 when I went to Teacher’s College was 137 males and 58 women, part-time one male and six women, total 202 staff (Year Book of Queensland).
Total teacher trainees of which 760 were male and 2,326 were female was 3, 086. Gender consideration breaks the figures down to a proportion of 5.5 male trainees to every male staff member and 36.4 female trainees every female staff member.
No matter the number of female trainees was three times the number of male trainees. Female staff was half the number of male staff.
The traditional status of women on graduation was they neither received equal pay or were promoted to senior positions, which was mentioned to me in passing at University at the end of the previous year as
disincentive why a friend had not considered teaching as a career. I had not even been equipped with knowledge my pay would begin on a lower rung than men I anticipated in the moment working alongside. I was still swallowing pie.
Any culture that accepts such ungracious inequity cannot expect gracious standards and sound intellectual reasoning to materialise overnight at the coal face of education.
I had skills as an educator when I accepted the offer the Queensland Department of Education made at the end of High School. Sale of the offer to me included it was prestige to be paid to go to University. I thought it was equivalent of a prize. I was without conceit, but proud of the Fellowship, its title seductive. If I was conceited I would not have had the friends I did in every faculty and level of their progress, under-graduate and post-graduate. I had friends behind me galore and interstate. Friendship was par for the course in my final two years of High School.
I knew nobody in Townsville I was in contact with, except that somewhere in the precinct of the James Cook University were former school classmates came home. I have never felt more isolated in my life
All very well leave gender off the agenda. I do not think so. The push to denigrate gender studies is an attempt to disguise power and render its critics helpless.
A female High School student had little or no acculturation either that she would even think to undertake an apprenticeship in a trade as alternative to accepting a scholarship or studentship. I had none other than disincentive. Bullying compartmentalises the way we think so we stay in its confine until we are released or live simply our lives out trapped by a belief system that is not of our own making.
1930 through to 1939 women enrolments in apprenticeships fluctuated around 39% at a high. Female enrolment was around 50% in war years and fell again after the war.
This dichotomy of technical education for men and for women was not seriously questioned for another fifty years. (Technical and Further Education in Queensland:A History 1860-1990, Department of Education, Queensland.)
I forced myself to acconpany a trainee buying a motor scooter. She just wanted the company. I had promised. I waited for her to refer to our treatment. She bought the motor scooter and we parted. I attempted the conversation with another student and hit the uncomfortable brick wall of self acknowledgement she was a failure and the student’s concern for her parents’ happiness.
Swimming was compulsory. I had not known. My mindset was I could not swim. I converted thought I would have to learn into believing I had opportunity. Best present and advise I looked forward to instruction except I was recovering from an ear infection and had not thought to secure a doctor’s certificate. There is no instruction just get in and swim, I was told brusquely by a male who was a passer-by, I thought a person in charge, and not that I knew if instruction was not available for me or anybody or if I ever knew. I stood wrapped in a towel over a bathing suit I was unaccustomed to wearing, feeling dismay I have vivid recall of and embarassment, incompetent, wondering what waste of time might be mine if what appeared a dearth of supervision let alone organisation meant I opted for a regular hide-out in the melee…and what child if I did might drown were I directed to oversee swimming classes in a remote location school and ignored I could not swim.
I would have to learn somewhere if it was assumed teachers are competent in water.
English Methodology class I looked forward to. The book was ‘The Old Man And The Sea’ by Ernest Hemmingway. I had studied it in some previous year and read it again the night before. I can smell the stink of mosquito coils. When the class was asked if there were any questions, I raised the issue I did not really like the book and had a different viewpoint on how to teach it. As you know so much about it, the lecturer said, peremptory, you can write an essay. Hand it in next week. I had responded as I would in a University tutorial, even in High School Senior English. I felt panic, embarrassed, baulked at the thought of the workload, travel time backwards and forwards, day-to-day exigencies.
I made a tape on English teaching methodology when I was at the College. I was revising a lesson, striving to arrive at a place of comfort within myself, competence and compliance. I recently note someone unaccustomed to a young woman speaking like it may think my wording and enunciation is stilted. My voice is deliberated and cultured. I wonder its negative effect potential on a Queensland Department of Education fuellled lecturer.
Not so I perhaps on a High School class.
Trainees were each allotted a school to attend for classroom experience.
to be continued…
Christina Binning Wilson