Jim and Jillian Dellit established this website to bring together their various endeavours, to engage with and contribute to the educational community and educational delivery. Jillian is continuing this work both in her own right, and to keep faith with Jim's life, 1947-2014, and their productive partnership 1970-2014.

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Remembering Jim Dellit

Posted by Jillian in Curriculum, Education policy, History of Education
June 9

Jim Dellit Funeral booklet p1 Many  readers of this blog will be aware by now that Jim Dellit died suddenly of heart failure on 28th May 2014. I have tried to notify as many people as possible, and apologise to any who read it here for the first time. In the coming weeks I will redesign this website. All information and postings relating to Jim will remain accessible and I will continue the work that meant so much to both of us. In the meantime, I publish below links to his funeral orations and some comments on his life as an educator. Students and colleagues who wish to add comments are welcome to do so. Jim made a significant contribution to both South Australian and national education – and some international contributions. He touched many people in a wide range of areas.

From Jillian’s funeral address

Jim and I met at Sydney Teachers’ College in 1968, our Dip. Ed. year, end-on to our Arts degrees. We were both training as English/History teachers on scholarships. We were serendipitously allocated to both the same – of many possible – English and History Method groups. In our first year of teaching – he at Doonside High School and me at Vaucluse Boys, we phoned each other most nights to deconstruct our teaching days, work out what to do with difficult kids and classes, share the interesting and challenging bits. We explored together who we were, what we believed in – all in the context of what kind of teachers we wanted to be. It was a time of change, of seemingly revolutionary teaching ideas, like group work and the use of film and media in English classrooms. We played with cameras and created film scripts. We discovered emerging adolescent fiction and children’s literature. We were modernist rather than post-modernist.1-scan564

Looking back in recent years, particularly as grandparents, we recognised that our identities, our marriage and our  world views were grounded in those formative teaching years. We saw the world as educators. We raised our daughters from our foundation as educators.  Jim’s work with the Health Community, the University of South Australia, Juvenile Justice, Educational policy and the people he met was dictated by an educator’s approach to the world. Our partnership was similarly grounded.

From our daughters’ perspective

Battle for the MicrophoneJim was a beloved teacher throughout his career – of both school and university students. In the last week, a thread on the Craigmore High School Old Scholars list has discussed the contribution of one of the nicest teaches we ever had. Several students talked about the great influence he had on countless students : he encouraged us to reach our potential, never looked down on us students. Craigmore 2Jim never looked down on anyone, actually, it was part of his immense charm. He approached every person he met as a source of interest and inspiration, someone to teach and to learn from. This was as true of his approach to a waiter in a restaurant as it was to a government Minister or celebrity. As Jim’s career progressed, he moved from solving individual case problems, to implementing school policies to resolve problems, and eventually into more systematic problem solving through departmental roles. People often described him as an intellectual –  a word he never chose to describe himself – but what they saw was a man who believed strongly in critical thinking, analysis and an evidence-based approach to public services. He thought everything could be improved, and that it was our responsibility to do so.

Dscn0717In the last two decades, Jim operated a consultancy as well as taking on a number of roles, including an adjuct senior research fellow at the University of South Australia, attached to both the School of Education  and the Research Centre for Languages and Cultural Education. He participated in many boards, including 10 years serving on the Australian Childrens’ Television Foundation Board.

From the time of his diagnosis with renal disease in 1993, Jim assiduously managed his health, in conjunction with the renal staff at the Queen Elizabeth, and then the Royal Adelaide Hospital. He adapted quickly and tackled his health in the same way he approached all his life. He gathered evidence, built relationships and focused on solving problems. He became a strongly involved patient, recognising early the importance of being an advocate for your own health, and then an advocate of stronger patient involvement in health decision making. He served on a number of national renal committees and in recent years on the SA Health Performance Council.

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From his renal tribe and health colleagues

I have lost not just a patient, but a friend.

He helped me so much.

I was privileged to know Jim as a person, not just a patient. He was a kind and thoughtful man and I always enjoyed our conversations.

It was a privilege to work with Jim. His wisdom will be with me always. His memory will live on!

In addition to his role on the HPC, he also played a very active role in the transfer of the renal unit from TQEH to RAH. Jim was a great advocate and will be missed by many.

Jim was so positive through all his health problems and will be sorely missed.

Jim was fondly remembered at the HPC meeting on Wednesday and a minute’s silence was observed yesterday at the Aboriginal Leaders Forum led by Klynton Wanganeen. Jim’s passion and dedication to excellence in the HPC’s work will be greatly missed by all.

Jim was a respected consumer representative on the CRG Advisory Board for six years and also participated in reviews for the Renal Group. Jim provided us with a very insightful and thoughtful perspective on the Cochrane Collaboration, the Renal Group and ‘medical consumers’.  We were very grateful for Jim’s involvement, which was instrumental in enabling the Cochrane Renal Group to make a successful contribution to kidney disease worldwide.

From clients and colleagues

I’m deeply saddened to hear that news. The impact both of you have had on myself personally and on the lives of the kids we are working with is beyond measure and I know we are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the achievements of both of your lives. I want you to know that we are so proud of what is happening in our school which I sincerely believe would not be if we hadn’t had the guidance and inspiration of Jim and yourself. 

I just want you to know that I am a better person for knowing both you and Jim and I know that he will be missed by so many who know him…..  Dscn0705

 

He was a clever man, urbane and charming I’ve been thinking a lot about Jim over the last little while and what he has left with me. We had some great lively discussions about the things that were important to us, not always agreeing, but always leaving the topic better informed and mostly wiser for having talked and listened. We already miss his insightfulness,  humour, chuckle.

I feel honoured to have worked with Jim in many ways and more recently with the Partners Program 

Like Garth Boomer, Bill Hannan and Bruce Wilson, Jim was one of that fine group in Australian education who really understood what constituted a fair and equitable curriculum and who wanted to make a difference to the national curriculum debate.
It was only when you and I started working together that I had the chance to get to know Jim a little better when we would meet briefly at a conference or speak on the phone or in your home.  I always wished we had more time to chat as every discussion was highly enjoyable, full of wry observations and always about something interesting- a book, a new idea, politics or about family and people.

I greatly valued my time working in Jim’s team. I learnt a great deal from him and with him, about education, life and people.

Jim was a very special person.

I hope you can take some comfort in knowing he was deeply respected and admired by all who knew him. Jim was a man who made a difference.

I have lovely memories of my time spent with him – whether it was talking Education-speak or gardening and travel tales. He was lovely to spend time around – challenging and fun at the same time.

We will very much miss Jim’s companionship and his fervour for education and so many other aspects of life. It is so hard to believe that he is no longer with us but our memories of times past seem very much alive, memories of such positive energy for teaching and teachers and young people.

I am not telling you anything when I say Jim was a great bloke, full of fun and life. He had put up with great medical hardship yet it did not stop him from being a positive, good-natured person. Professionally, he was a good colleague of Catholic Education. He was very much a committed educator who bought much to the lives of other educators and children.

Jim was a revered and highly acclaimed educator. His humanity is something I will always remember.

Jim was an invaluable colleague, collaborator and friend and we have always valued his thoughtful, insightful and committed approach. He will be greatly missed by us all.

Twenty years ago, when I worked with Jim, I was having a hard time. I talked to Jim – and he hugged me. I have never forgotten.

He was my mate, and I miss him..

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The Australian Children’s Television foundation published this tribute to Jim in their Care for Kids Newsletter No. 129, July 2014

 

 

From an ex-student

I was a student at Craigmore High School from 1976 to 1980, and I had the pleasure / blessing of being a student of Mr. Dellit.  This journey was much more than simply being under his caring and thorough / passionate presentation of English.  He did not just encourage my passion for English, but much more – he shaped ME.  I am the man I am today, not only for the upbringing of loving parents, but Mr. Jim Dellit.  I am so very glad that I tracked him down within the last 10 years 

 

Even in his last week, in hospital and very short of breath, he discussed Gonski’s Jean Blackburn Oration and the next steps to ensure better outcomes for all students. He would have been humbled by the response to news of his death – and urge us all to continue working to improve education for all kids.

His daughter Alison summed it up thus:

In my sister’s words: ʺwe were the luckiest of allʺ. My father raised strong women in a time when this was not a given. Growing up, I took for granted that life was about making the world better, serving the public good, serving justice and decreasing inequality…

I learned to argue what I thought with intelligence, and to use data and analysis effectively. I learned to have compassion and treat people with kindness, and to take everyone I met as equal in contribution, intelligence and potential. I learned no other way to be.

Like everyone here, I will miss my father more than words can express. I will miss his humour, his laundry obsession, his curiosity, his warmth, his laugh, his capacity to make unexpected and delightful friendships, and his joy. But I also know that I carry much of him with me always. My father was that kind of man he changed you, and gave you pieces of himself to carry along.

 

 

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7 Comments

7 Responses to Remembering Jim Dellit

  1. Steve Clapton says:

    I am both shocked and saddened by the passing of Mr. Jim Dellit. I had the pleasure of being a student at Craigmore High during 1976-1980, a difficult time for me as my own father became seriously ill with (ironically) Renal failure! At the time, Jim was my English teacher, and a great one at that! What I wasn’t aware of was that his abilities to be so much more were endless. Jim not only assisted me academically through those difficult times, he also provided both myself and my family with a compassionate ear and a strong sense of support, guidance and overall empathy, even to the point that I was able to unload my thought and fears for my fathers plight on him, rather than my mother who was struggling with her new role as primary carer to both 4 kids and my father! I have never been particularly good at bearing my soul to others, but with Jim it was different, even though I had in effect, only known him for a short period of time, he was so damned easy to talk to, and he never DIDN’T have the time to listen and provide support, regardless of the time of day! I’m just sorry I never managed to catch up with him again after I had completed school and moved on with making a life for myself. I credit Jim with a large percentage of the type of person I developed into, and given that I have been happily married for 26 years with 4 (boys) great kids, I am eternally grateful Mr. Jim Dellit for the part you played in my formative years. As much as I’m saddened by your passing, I take great comfort in the fact that you appear to have left an indelible mark on so many others during your journey?! So to you I say thanks, and to your family, my sympathies during this sad time but also my admiration for sharing such a warm, selfless and uniquely compassionate and passionate individual with all those of us fortunate enough to have known such a remarkable man. Stay strong and look after yourselves and Jim will no doubt occupy my thoughts in the fondest of remembrances for some time to come……..Sincerely, Steve xxxxx


  2. Tricia Edgar says:

    Dear Jillian

    I am still coming to terms with the knowledge of Jim’s sudden death. He was such a lovely, enthusiastic, generous and supportive individual in so many ways. I always think of Jim and Garth together both great educators and it was Garth who led me to Jim. Despite his health issues he approached everything he did with zeal and a delightful smile. You were a great team and I am so sorry for your tragic loss. There are many who will feel a loss from their lives knowing we cannot see Jim and talk with him again. He was a friend, excellent and intelligent company and an understanding spirit in difficult times.


  3. Coral Ward (Hunt) says:

    Jillian, my thoughts go out to you and your family in this saddest of times. It seems a long while ago that we all first met, when I was a student at Craigmore HIgh and later I babysat your children. I think the last time I saw Jim was at Garth Boomer’s funeral and I know that Jim struggled with his health. Jim was a fantastic teacher, he gave so much in those early years of his teaching and “us Elizabeth kids” appreciated it greatly. He was generous and inspiring, I remember the time he had all of his English student act out King Lear in your cellar at home. There are many tributes to Jim on the Craigmore High facebook page, he was much loved although he may not have always known that. As Patrica says above, both Jim and Garth were great educators, certainly they both had a strong influence on my early years and I will always be grateful. Love, Coral


  4. Phan Thu Trang says:

    I just wanna cry after reading Jillian’s email to inform me about this sad news. I don’t want to believe that Jim gone away from our life.
    The first time I met him when I was in high school (now I’m 28 years old). at that time, I remember his cosy and bright smile which makes me feel more confident with my English (because in Vietnam, English is even not the second language, so we’re always unconfident to speak English with foreigners. But he tried his best to listen to me and then we’ve become friends. He often called me ‘Little One’ when he wrote me an email.
    Because of the long distance we can’t meet each other then but I always miss him so much. He often told me about his family whom I’ve never met before, but I also love them so much because I can know that this beloved man loves his family by whole of his heart.
    I really regret because I can’t meet him until now and forever.
    I sent my condolences to Ms. Jillian and family.
    Now I just want to cry loudly. But of course, wherever you go, you’re still my great, big and best friend. You’ll be in my heart forever. I never forget you until I die. I miss you so much, Jim! :((
    Rest in Peace, my wonderful friend <3


  5. Patricia Craig says:

    The best teacher I had. I loved the way he worked it. Year 10 english I couldn’t do a thing wrong. Craigmore High late 70’s. Also a special patient I had the pleasure of nursing in the renal unit some years ago. Made an impact on my life Mr. Dellit. Sad to hear this news. Xxxx


  6. Jo Rose says:

    I will miss Jim 1 a lot. the funny birthday cards he would send me. Just think he’s up there talking to Dr Schuppan now. They will have a lot to catch up with. Our dialysis group was one great big family with lots of parties. After we both had transplant we still keep in touch, I’m going really miss him.


  7. Eileen Wanganeen says:

    My husband and I first met with Jim and Jillian, to talk through what it means being an up and coming dialysis patient, I had gone to our meeting with fear and mixed emotions of what was to come. I walked away with the feeling that I could do this and be able to manage this and full time work. After being told that I have to go onto dialysis, Jim and Jillian enabled me to have the courage to take charge of what was to come! I am to this day very grateful for both of your support Im now on my new journey as a transplant patient as of 2nd February 2014.


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