My autobiography as a teacher who has worked all around New Zealand then in eight different countries. A sharing of life experiences as a teacher in the hope that others will do the same sort of thing.
Chapter 1: North Shore Teacher’s College, Auckland, NZ. 1965-66
To start, North Shore Teacher’s College, was a misnomer. It was in Mount Roskill in 1965 but moved to Northcote in 1966. To earn a ‘Teaching Certificate’, one had two years of lectures from 9.00 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. and a year in a hand-picked class known as your probationary year. My first fortnightly pay-check, was in a fact a cheque for nine pounds seven shillings and a penny, which I could easily exchange into real cash with an on-site, payday bank officer from the ASB. In those days you did not have to give blood/swear allegiance/have ID to turn an Education Board cheque into the folding stuff.
Coming from Westlake Boys High School to N.S.T.C. where the women outnumbered the men by a 5:1 ratio was the nearest thing to a boy in a lolly-shop. I met my future wife at a N.S.T.C. dance when I was in my PA year.
At college, or the ‘Marriage Bureau’, as it was often referred as, everybody chose two subjects to specialise in (5 lectures a week), then two Curriculum subjects (three lectures a week) and two leftovers (one lecture a week). I took science/physical education as the specialist, then mathematics/art for curriculum, and music/geography. Education/English were compulsory.
The lecturers were a pretty good lot and gave me a lot of confidence to go out into the big wide world of teaching. Don H., especially, who was my tutor teacher, absolutely savaged me for my first ‘critic lesson’. A Std 4 at Westmere.” Yes Don, I was ‘glued’ to the podium, yes Don I didn’t rove, yes Don I won’t answer the questions for the children in the future.” Being shot down in flames first time up was a necessary wake-up call, so thanks Don!
My second section at Glenfield Primary P4 with Mrs Nan. taught me a lot about toddlers. Over enthusiastic P.E. specialist as I was, I would spend my lunchtime playing soccer with the kids. Didn’t realise the young kids do not re-act very quickly, and when I kicked a ball rather hard some poor 7 year old boy copped it fair in the face, blood everywhere, screaming like a Banshee, he ran off to Mrs Nan to complain about the ruffian teacher. He only had a blood nose! I was nearly drawn and quartered at the ensuing post-mortem.
I was the proud owner of a silver-pigeon motor scooter, which meant I had relatively easy access from our family home in Northcote to College in Mt Roskill. I say ‘relatively’ because putt-putting over the four-lane harbour bridge (the Nippon Clip-ons were not added to the bridge until 1969) was no easy task during a force 3 gale. If the wind got too dangerous, motor -cyclists were stopped at the toll booths (these existed until 1984) and were wheeled into the back of a truck. When the truck was full, we were whisked over in style and released by the Marina. Approaching the top of the hill by Karangahape Road was fine and a scooter could easily sidle between two buses if there was a red traffic light. However, if the light turned green and I had not squeezed to the front of the queue and was still between two buses, my life was in serious danger. Before turning right, a bus would veer a little left to make the turn easier, the gap between those diesel demons was about a metre, but with the wide veering both sides of my steering wheel were clipped by bus. Nearly had to go back home and change my under-pants. After that experience, I always rode behind the buses and choked on the black fumes instead.
The following year the N.S.T.C. actually moved to the ‘shore’ where it survived as a Teachers’ college for the next 38 years then it was disbanded when teacher training was changed to become an Auckland University Course.
The final piece of road was not named when we first went there, so four ubiquitous students decided to make a signpost for it. Armed with a bag of concrete mix, a steel pole and a quasi-signpost with the words, ‘OSBORNES’ WAY no exit’ emblazoned on both sides, our proposed prank became a reality late one Sunday evening. May it be noted this was meant to be a compliment and not an insult to our beloved leader. For anyone who thought this was like a reference to some maniacal dictator as in South America would be completely wrong as we had nothing but respect and admiration for the man. The sign actually stayed up for quite a few weeks and was once written into directions on a route map for outsiders coming to a conference held there.
I was given a leather thong which was held together by a sombrero and worn around the neck. Thinking it would be a pleasant change from those 3 cm skinny ties we wore in the 60’s I adorned myself with it and went off to lectures. I didn’t even survive wearing this past morning tea-time as I was summoned into the Deputy Dean’s office.
“Michael, you are in the teaching profession now and as such, our standard of dress must be of the highest respectability, such neck attire is not professional and I ask you not to wear that thong around your neck again whilst at college.” Sorry Eric, but at that point I wanted to change the name on our street-sign!