Geography Teacher — Simon Haigh
I studied Geography to Year 10, and then concentrated on sciences. I started a Bachelor of Science in 1992 but was open-minded about my career interests. In second year, after talking to staff at the university Careers Office, I changed to a combined Science/Arts degree. This way I kept more options open for the future.
The combined degree enabled me to choose a Geography subject; as time passed, I kept enrolling in more and more Geography subjects. Eventually, I had a major and a minor in Geography. I had studied areas such as physical geography (geomorphology, soils), resource management, environmental and human geography.
It was fantastic to study Geography. So often, life reflected what I was learning about. I found too, that my real friendships were made among those I'd shared fieldwork experiences with.
At this stage (1996), following advice from the Careers Office at university, I opted for a Diploma of Teaching rather than doing Honours in Geography. My recreational interests (surfing, kayaking and outdoors generally) fitted in well with teaching. I also had an interest in environmental consulting, which I put on hold while I pursued my teaching interest.
Me the teacher! I'm now in my fourth year of teaching at Camberwell Grammar School. I feel confident that I'm doing a good job. Looking back, I can see huge gaps between the theory of my Diploma of Teaching studies, and the practical realities of teaching.
In my first year, it was tricky to cope with the pressure of having to balance so many competing demands. There are so many relationships to deal with—teaching staff, students, including outside class time in sport and so on, friends on staff and from university. And then there are the actual work pressures too: organisation, scheduling, marking and report writing. I joined the Geography Teachers Association of Victoria (GTAV) in my first year of teaching, and have had great support from there as well as from my work colleagues.
Our Geography department is quite dynamic and we are interesting the students with some innovative work. Doing topical studies such as resource management and human interaction with the environment, the use of role-plays in class work, and the use of new technologies all inspire the kids. We have entered the Australian Geography Competition and our Year Nine students have won awards. Next year they will compete internationally.
I am quite involved with the GTAV and am a Vice-President. I hope to promote a software package, Geography Information Systems (GIS), through them next year. And I have some good ideas about mentoring for younger Geography teachers.
I've really enjoyed my last eight years, becoming more and more involved with understanding and passing on Geography's 'message'. There is endless variety in my job as a teacher, and it complements my recreational interests. In my own small way, I am having an impact on how young people see their world. My days as an environmental consultant may have to wait for now, although I guess that's what I already am—in the classroom!