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Commercial Education Society of Australia

Hugh Twaddle

Hugh was born and raised in Mildura, Victoria, where he attended primary and secondary school before studying at Flinders University in South Australia. Later Hugh studied at Burwood State College (Vic), SA Institute of Technology (now University of SA) and CQUniversity.

Hugh's passion for education and learning has been a major element in his life as he progressed from a class teacher, through a variety of school and regional teaching roles to an Inspectorate Country Relieving Teacher, a specialist teacher in Literacy, Music, Behaviour, to Senior Teacher, Head Teacher and Principal. He has worked in three state education systems—SA, Victoria and NSW.

In addition to his educational background, Hugh has run his own companies, and worked in both Private and Government sectors at senior levels.

Writing and music have played a major part in Hugh's life and he is a widely recognised composer and lyricist having written and published more than 400 songs, skits and plays. He has also written children's short stories and, professionally, has written and co-written many VET and other educational courses and syllabus.

Hugh is an accomplished presenter, facilitator, trainer and teacher who has also musically directed, and directed and produced musical theatre.

Education is my Passion—Thoughts from a Teacher
Hugh Twaddle

Some time ago during a chance meeting of an old friend, who was accompanied by a person I didn't know at the time, I was asked what I did. A simple enough question at the time, however later upon reflection when writing for a presentation, I began to consider again what and why I do what I do.

The simple explanation is I am a teacher, writer, composer and lyricist, trainer, facilitator, and ... It was the 'and' that my true reflection about the what, who and why really started. The 'where' was the simple part of my answer ... anywhere there's a need. The 'what' was where I began to list some of my skills, whilst the 'who' was almost as simple as the 'where'. If there was a need somewhere that required my skills, then there was someone who required satisfaction. It was the why that really kicked my curiosity into action and hence my journey of self-reflection truly began.

As an 'old Scouter' and an even older 'Scout' helping people has been such a part of my life for so long that in part it has become second nature and in education I'm always 'prepared' for the unexpected (one of what I consider the important elements of being a successful teacher). Teaching seemed a natural progression to my thinking as I believe to be successful in education (and teaching) an effective teacher needs to have certain characteristics or qualities such as having: passion—for what they do and believe; excellent communication skills; a positive attitude; high expectations; consistency; flexibility; an open mind; and being an excellent listener. There are other qualities too that one needs however given the broad role that an effective teacher has and the profound impact that they have on their students these would list as my top 8.

Teaching is a time-consuming profession that requires great personal commitment. It is extremely rewarding but it can equally be demanding—that creates great pressure (even conflict) on one's own time, family and personal relationships and most of all, on one's self—if as a teacher, you are truly committed. Passion is therefore of utmost importance for, as a teacher, if you wish to make a difference, you need to believe (above all else) that you can.

Teachers need flexibility—not only to cater for individual learning (and sometimes teaching) styles but to cater for all those unexpected things that seem to happen during a 'normal' day. As only teachers really know (perhaps a few parents too) things like: the 'wind'; rainy days; anticipated visits by football players; sporting events; change of timetable; absences (staff or student); a birthday party; and the 'new child' whose presence seems to change the whole dynamics of the class—without warning and they seem so nice too!

Catering for the unexpected is a big part of teaching (and I haven't even mentioned the curriculum and its changes) and being unflappable in the eyes of your public is so important.

Having and maintaining high expectations seems to be a natural characteristic of quality teachers and teaching. Setting 'the bar high' and raising your students to meet those standards is a huge task. Teaching students the skills to master and take charge of their own learning (and behaviour) is a truly wonderful experience which is richly rewarding.

Communication skills in teaching is so much more than being able to email, tweet and the like as evidenced by our current generation. There is a great necessity to have great interpersonal (but professional) skills. The ability to relate to people, especially students (of all ages), one on one and in groups (irrespective of size) is a rare skill that few professions master. Good teachers have it and they practise it regularly despite it often being a natural attribute.

Listening is such an important aspect of good teaching that it is often overlooked. Hearing is different from listening as the latter implies understanding and (at least in part) comprehension.

Having an open mind is in the same category as flexibility and communication for without it teachers would be like dinosaurs—extinct! Education (for good or not) has changed. The world has changed and so have our teaching and learning styles. Our (society's) values have changed over the years (or perhaps they are cyclic—but that's another story meant for a later date) and so must the way we react. Both Socrates and Hesiod, centuries ago, complained about young people having no respect, poor manners and being social tyrants. How things have changed—not!

Education opens our minds and our thinking and the better we are at both, the better we are. Teachers are among the best.

In my own career I seem to have experienced all that I have mentioned. I have been a student, teacher, principal, writer, composer, musician, conductor (music), tutor, lecturer, consultant, cleaner, porter, barman, waiter, and, I think, a student again as I seem to have never stopped learning.

It's difficult to sum up one's own philosophy on teaching when many eminent philosophers like Ginott, Bodell or Estrada have eloquently published their thoughts and quotes. Ginott's thoughts that a teacher is the decisive element in the classroom (Ginnott, 1971, cited in Andrius) is a powerful reminder of the effect of a teacher, however mine is more simple: I do what I do as Education is my Passion, what's yours?

Hugh Twaddle
June 2012

© Copyright CESA March 2010