Motion: World Teachers' Day

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (11:45): I rise to support the motion by the member for Newland:

That this house notes that 26 October is World Teachers' Day (Australia) and expresses its appreciation to all South Australian teachers and former teachers who have dedicated their lives to helping our next generation to be all they can be.

World Teachers' Day was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1994 and is celebrated in over a hundred countries. This year, the theme of World Teachers' Day is 'The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher'.

Today's teachers are operating in complex, fast-paced, multicultural and technological environments, which makes the quality of teaching even more significant in helping our young people to engage with their learning and to realise their potential. The quality of teaching is a significant factor in the success of the student, and effective teachers understand that the learning needs of students vary from one student to the next.

We want South Australian students to be inspired, to learn and to continue learning throughout their lives. That is where the commitment of educators is pivotal and why excellence in teaching must be recognised. That is why we are here today, noting our school teachers who have educated us over time and who are the educators of our children into the future. I will reflect on some of my early educational experiences, although they were a little while ago now. I was educated during the late sixties and seventies at Coomandook Area School.

The Hon. T.J. Whetstone: Are you that old?

Mr PEDERICK: You can talk. The first principal I can remember was Harry Harris, who then went over to a job on Kangaroo Island and, sadly, died too young. Ron Wigney then played a significant part. He had some difficulties. I remember there was a terrible situation of a murder-suicide involving one member of the teaching staff. It is one of the most significant memories of my secondary school career—I was in year 8 at the time—and it is something you never forget. The rumours went through the school on the day, and then obviously there was the reporting in the media the next day. It is one of those stark memories you wish you did not have when growing up, but it certainly stands out.

Ron Wigney was the man who had to manage that. At an end-of-year assembly, he was the man who said something along the lines of, 'If you thought it was hard and a long time here at school, wait until you get out.' I think that no truer words were ever spoken: you had to face up to the realities of life, business and work. He was a very respected man. I had not seen Ron for a couple of years, and I was pleased to catch up with him a few years ago.

David Mellon, who now lives in Murray Bridge, was also a principal at Coomandook. He ended up with my former grade 2 teacher as his partner. I think that is magnificent, just through a series of different circumstances.

The Hon. T.J. Whetstone: Were you the date maker?

Mr PEDERICK: No. You have memories of all these things when you start talking about issues like this. I certainly remember my grade 1 teacher, Liz Loen, and Robyn Wilson, as she was then, back when I was in grade 2. I have some fantastic memories of Robyn; not so fantastic was the discipline she meted out with the ruler. A ruler on its edge on your knuckles when you are disciplining yourself is interesting. I am sure I only had to do it once.

An honourable member: Self-disciplining.

Mr PEDERICK: Self-disciplining under instruction. She was a fantastic teacher and lived only a few kilometres down the road from me at Coomandook. I then had Ian Tilley in later years; I think that was in about years 4 and 5. I am not sure about year 3; it might have been Robyn Wilson again. It was all a little while ago. Then I had Alan Head, who sadly passed away a few years ago. His wife was our next-door neighbour on the farm at Coomandook. She was Dorothy Tucker and is now Dorothy Head. She still operates a thrift shop in Murray Bridge and does a great job.

My most significant memory of Alan Head is the dancing lessons he gave us, the old ballroom dances, which sadly we probably do not see enough of. There was maypole dancing, and we learned the military two, military three and a whole range of other dances. It may not seem significant at the time, but it does help with your overall education process. Before I speak about the broader motion, I want to reflect on one teacher, who was the deputy principal at the time, Bob Chapman.

We had a school trip up the river and we were on a houseboat. For whatever reason, the boat lost power and started going sideways towards a bridge and we had no power to pull out. Bob Chapman was a bit of a smoker as it was, but I reckon I never saw him smoke as many cigarettes as he did that day when we were heading towards this bridge. Between Bob and the crew on the boat, they managed to berth it sideways against one of the bridge pillars and we all got off safely. Because of his care for the kids, I reckon he should have been sponsored by a cigarette company. He was stressed and I can understand why. You probably could not do that these days on a school trip.

What I would like to say is that teachers do frame your lives. That is the point I am trying to make. You have childhood memories, no matter how old you get, of how they frame your lives. What has been indicated already this morning by speakers, including the member for Wright, is the fact that teachers have to do far more than just educate these days. They have to be psychological advisers and they have to provide food, with the assistance of breakfast clubs. I am glad we have put in $800,000 for that program.

It is amazing: breakfast clubs are across all forms of socio-economic backgrounds; it is not specific to one section of society. It intrigues me that kids go to school hungry, but it is a sad reality of life. If they are hungry, they do not learn properly, because how do you learn when your belly is growling and all you can think about is the next thing you can eat? Certainly, the challenges include guidance and counselling.

We have counsellors at schools but, as I said, every teacher has to be a counsellor because there are so many demands on kids. There is the use of technology, the use of mobile phones, bullying on mobile phones and that sort of thing. It is a very hard job, and I commend teachers for the amount of work they have to do, not just around education but the extra work they need to do. In some cases, they are basically replacing the caregivers or parents because, sadly, there is not a lot of love at home for those children. I commend the teachers who do that. It is tough.

The role of caregivers and parents is pivotal as well, to assist with learning. There is always homework to do and, as has been indicated, parents can link in faster and more easily with teachers. We cannot say enough good things about teachers and the challenges they face and, with World Teachers' Day coming up, I commend them for everything they do, not just in educating our children but also in guiding them into the future so they can be great citizens and make our community a great place to live.