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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October 6

Conversations with Baby Boomer Teachers: the Book posted by Jillian in Uncategorized

It is a while since I posted. This is because I have been in the process of turning the 49 Conversations posts into a book as requested by a few readers. It has been a bit of a business, and I confess to having done a fair bit of avoiding.

However the book is now available on Blurb as a print-on-demand paperback, a free ebook, or a pdf file. You can also read the whole paperback online as a Preview.

When the page opens from the links above, if you choose the flag of your country from the drop down menu in the top right hand corner of the page, you will see prices displayed in your own currency.

When the page opens from the links above, if you choose the flag of your country from the drop down menu in the top right hand corner of the page, you will see prices displayed in your own currency. Please note that GST and postage will be added at checkout. There is no royalty added to the book, so all the price is that charged by Blurb for printing and postage. Printing is, as far as I can tell, done in the country of order and delivered from there to local customers.

I hope that those readers who asked for a print book version enjoy reading it and that all readers feel free to download an ebook.

I’m not sure where, if anywhere, I will take this blog from here. The book is the culmination of the last 6 years of profiles of Baby Boomer Teachers – still a story that I think is worth telling.

Thank you to all of those who took part, in the conversations and in reading the blog posts. Thanks too, to Pat Manser, who proof-read the book for me. If, by any quirk, you have trouble with the links, simply search by the title on blurb.com

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December 30

Conversations with Baby Boomer Teachers: Profile No.49 posted by Jillian in Biography, History of Education, Secondary schooling

On her Matriculation results, Z2 was offered a place in Law at Monash University. She applied, as she recalls, for (1) Law (2) Teaching and (3) Nursing. She enrolled in Law, but was subsequently offered a teaching studentship. Her father, an accountant, had a serious talk to her about the advantages of both the studentship and teaching. It was, he pointed out, ‘a good career for a girl’. The studentship would pay for her training and guaranteed her a job at the end of the course with a predictable, secure wage for as long as she worked. Her father was forceful and pragmatic. In his world this was an option that balanced the books.

She allowed herself to be persuaded, and enrolled in a three-year Secondary Teaching Certificate Course at Monash Teachers’ College on the grounds of Monash University. She focused on Geography, History and English but the course was a broad one, incorporating Biology and other subject areas. She lived at home and paid board. Later, after the birth of her first child, she converted her certificate to a Batchelor of Education with two years of study as an external student of Melbourne University, listening to the provided cassette tapes of lectures while her son slept.

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December 20

Conversations with Baby Boomer Teachers: Profile 48 posted by Jillian in Uncategorized

When, in her High School in a country town in North East Victoria, Y2 was considered for a government bursary to help her finish high school, but bonding her to teach, the teacher in charge did not recommend her because “She can do better than teaching”.

Two years later, her matriculation results earned her two tertiary options – Arts at Latrobe University or a primary teacher training studentship in Melbourne. The Arts option meant dependence on her parents throughout the course, whereas the teaching studentship provided accommodation at a student hostel, her fees, textbook allowance and a living allowance. In taking up the teaching studentship she expected to work out her four-year bond. She was not thinking of teaching as a whole-of-life occupation. 

In the hostel, and the course, she met people from all walks of life. After the first year, she moved into shared rental accommodation with a group of friends from the course. Her primary specialisation was Physical Education.

At the end of her course she was appointed to a school of around 600 students on the North-western edge of Melbourne. Many of the students were new arrivals – at that time mostly Vietnamese boat people. They were diligent, grateful students. As a PE teacher, Y2 had half an hour non-contact time a week.

In her second year of teaching she was allowed one day a week of in-service, provided by the Victorian Education Department PE Branch at Primary School No. 2365 in Queensbury St Carlton. For the first and last 6 weeks of each year, she and her fellow PE teachers were removed from schools to teach swimming full time to students from a range of schools. This was an important program to ensure all Victorian children learned to swim.

After three years of teaching she applied for leave to travel overseas, but was refused. A year later, at the end of her four-year bond, she resigned and travelled overseas for a year spending time in Northern Ireland, Malta, Europe and three months on a kibbutz in Israel.

On her return, she was reappointed to the same school as a PE teacher but left after a year for a small rural school. She continued in rural schools for just over a decade. For the last four of these years she was a rural school principal, teaching a 4/ 5 /6 class in addition to her leadership role.

Along the way she took 7 years family leave, returned to North Melbourne and, eventually, classroom teaching, part-time. She wanted time for her family, rather than eroding her family time with preparation. The principal of her new school suggested that a lot had happened while she had been out of the system and that she would need to take time to catch up. She regraded and took a pay drop.

It took her two weeks to catch up and, of course, she ended up doing leadership work anyway.

She loved the creativity of lesson planning, the adapting and recycling of lessons in different ways for different purposes and different students. She was, by now, interested in environmental science, and married to a biologist. The school shifted to a Science speciality.

She worked a three-day week and thought she had the best job in the world.

She took early retirement to support her parents. Her father was ill and her mother developing dementia.  She continued to support her mother after her father died.


Y2 has always regarded teaching as a creative outlet. She enjoyed it all. She was able to swap around – teaching different things, different levels, different students. There was always something new – and she always put her hand up.

Teaching shaped her politics. She was unaware, when she went to Teachers’ College, that female teachers were paid less than male teachers. Equal pay was introduced the next year, but she was astounded at the inequality. It was Teachers’ College that made her aware. Being there, with other female students, led to her, and others, taking a strong stand on inequality. Once she was teaching, it was obvious that men, regardless of ability or commitment, could expect to progress to promotion positions while women would be overlooked, discouraged or assumed to be disinterested or incapable.

This experience, as well as her early teaching of new arrivals, taught her to regard differences with respect and to cater for differences of all kinds. This perception has stood her in good stead both as a teacher and a citizen. Teachers are responsible for the learning of all students, and must find ways to make it happen for every child – to find and use the strength and interest of every child. This is a skill and perspective for all aspects of life.

She now does a lot of mosaic art and has been invited to small country schools to teach it. In one school, with a group of students with a range of behavioural and learning difficulties, the young classroom teacher later commented that she had learned so much watching how Y2 dealt with the children.

Training and experience are not enough. That ability to engage students has come from training, experience and reflection – most importantly – underpinned by a clear understanding of, and respect for, the capacity of every child to learn and the job of every teacher to make that happen.

Her grasp of disadvantage and discrimination appears to have been fundamental to her success.

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December 12

Conversations with Baby Boomer Teachers: Profile 47 posted by Jillian in Aboriginal education, Adult education, Art education, Biography, History of Education, Primary schooling

X2 grew up in a pub in a small country town in Victoria, the youngest of four girls. Her family had a strong sense of community responsibility and supporting others. There were often ‘waifs and strays’ staying at the pub, some were single mothers and their children escaping violence. She was encouraged to be outspoken. An older sister constantly challenged authority.

Education was important to her family. The only further education open to girls in the district were teaching or nursing with bursaries attached to enable living away from home. One sister chose nursing. The other three siblings chose teaching.

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December 2

Conversations with Baby Boomer Teachers: Profile 46 posted by Jillian in Aboriginal education, Art education, Biography

Growing up in Adelaide in an extended family of hard-working Greek immigrants, W2 developed a passion for Art from the age of 6, when an uncle introduced him to oil paint. Naively, the uncle did not initially think to teach him to mix and clean up with turps (probably not expecting him to either mix or clean up!). W2 used water for both- and got into a mess. He soon learned to do it properly and really took to the medium.

He remembers wanting to draw, and draw, and draw.

At primary school a teacher asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said he wanted to be an artist and have a work in the Art Gallery.

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November 18

Conversations with Baby Boomer Teachers: Profile No.45 posted by Jillian in Adult education, Biography, English as a Second Language, History of Education, Languages

V2’s Scottish grandmother and her two daughters, one of whom was his father’s twin, were teachers. This grandmother had married his grandfather – an Australian soldier – in Scotland – a week after the end of The Great War. She followed him to Australia. V2 and his family were living in Sydney when his father was killed in a car accident. V2 was two years old and his brother 10 months old. V2’s mother and her two children moved to Tamworth.

The compensation court made a limited financial award – the assumption from the magistrate, when addressing her, being that she would marry again. His mother put half the award into trust for the boys, and half into a sizeable deposit on a little house for them to live in. His mother did remarry, though not happily. Her second husband, an alcoholic, was suffering, as V2 would realise later, from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his WWII service in Greece and the Middle East.

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November 11

Conversations with Baby Boomer Teachers: Profile No.44 posted by Jillian in Biography, History of Education, Primary schooling

T2 loved his own Primary schooling. He had good teachers, good friends and lots of sports. In High School he recalls more sport – and debating. He has fond memories of catching the train to Moss Vale in Year 6 to play cricket. Most of all, however, he has vivid, fond memories of his Year 6 teacher. It was 1968, the teacher’s first year at the school.  He was a veteran of radio quiz programs like Pick-a-Box, (and later TV programs like Sale of the Century) who transferred his passion to the boys he taught, introducing class quizzes and quizzes as rewards for completed work. T2 was an early convert to trivia and trivia quizzes, especially as an educational tool. He enjoyed picking up information.

He was part of a bright cohort of students. His father was a GP and his mother taught. He liked science but it was not his strength so he was not going to follow his father. T2 said his sister had those genes. Law was an option. On leaving school he did not qualify to get into Law, so opted to do a couple of Law subjects within an Arts degree. After two years he decided Law was not for him and that he was much more interested in his other subjects – History, Government and Psychology, so adjusted his course accordingly.  The Primary School attraction had never left him, so, on graduation in Arts, he enrolled in and completed a Dip Ed in Primary Education. Without that transforming Year 6 Primary experience he would not have thought of the Primary education pathway.

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November 6

Conversations with Baby Boomer Teachers: Profile No.43 posted by Jillian in Art education, Biography, History of Education, Secondary schooling

Teaching was what she always wanted to do. With her mother and an aunt as teachers, S2 grew up in an atmosphere of education. She participated in activities involving art whenever the opportunity arose. She was an avid follower and participant in the ABC Radio’s children’s program, The Argonauts, sending in Art work, then eagerly anticipating, and taking account of, the feedback she received on air from the Art commentator, Phidias, (the Argonaut persona of the artist Jeffrey Smart).

She enjoyed her own schooling, liked children and, especially in her senior years of high school, enjoyed Languages and Art. Many girls from St George Girls’ High School progressed to careers in teaching, medicine or nursing so it was a well-worn path for her into teaching. She tossed up between teaching Languages or teaching Art. The modelling she saw for both subjects led her to believe that Art would be the more interesting path. There was a rich culture around Art – far more aspects to explore with students than there appeared to be in the grammar-based Languages curricula.

Her back-up plan – a B.A. Dip Ed- did not have to be implemented. She was accepted into the special Art teaching program at East Sydney Technical College, Darlinghurst (from 1996 the National Art School), commuting each day by train from Oatley, south of the city, to Sydney’s Museum station.

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October 30

Conversations with Baby Boomer Teachers: Profile No.42 posted by Jillian in Education reform, History of Education, Primary schooling

R2’s father was a teacher. He was different to other fathers, interested in opera, a piano player, academic, friends with John Bernard and Arthur Delbridge, the editors of the Macquarie Dictionary. R2 grew up absorbing this world, but understanding it was not the norm. His father was also his Year 5 teacher.

He loved working with children, but did not get the marks to enter Teachers’ College in his final school exams.  On leaving school he went to work in the Insurance Industry, lasting 2 years and 2 days. It was clear to him that this was not for him. He successfully applied for one of the Whitlam Government’s mature-age tertiary education allowances, quit his insurance job and enrolled in a Primary Education course at The Guild Teachers’ College in Sydney. There was a choice of Infants, Primary or General Primary teaching. He favoured General Primary. His leaning was towards Year 6.

His parents were OK with his choice, although his father was, by this stage. a bit frustrated with teaching.

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October 20

Conversations with Baby Boomer Teachers: Profile No.41 posted by Jillian in Art education, Biography, History of Education, Primary schooling

Q2 hated school. She grew up in NSW in a household that included her widowed grandmother and a godmother (step-daughter of her grandmother) who lived around the corner. Until Q2 was 5, these two taught her sewing and domestic skills in a nurturing, supportive, extended family environment. She had the run of the two houses. Her mother had been eligible to go to a selective high school, but her parents couldn’t afford to send her. Both her parents wanted her to be well educated.

School, she quickly decided, was not for her. She ran away again and again, getting herself through the main shopping centre of Bankstown to her home on the opposite side of the town to the school, on the borderline of the zone for the next school.

Two incidents in her first couple of weeks at school remain in her memory. On a day, after she had had an injection, a boy pushed her into a tree, hurting her injected arm. The teacher she complained to told her not to be a dibber-dobber.  On another occasion she wore a small brooch to school that her father had bought her from a visit to Botany. She lost the brooch in the playground. The teacher from whom she sought help told her she should never have brought it to school and it was her own fault, providing no help to find it.

She decided then that she would become a teacher in order to be fair and kind to students. The resolve never wavered.

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