2017-03-26 Sun

School of Sober Second Thought

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I’m with the senator on this one. Or at least, part of this one.

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Beyack acknowledges the damning side of the residential schools approach, and so she should, and so it should be – damned, that is.

I have some first-hand experience of residential schools from my teenage years.

In 1959 I left home at age 13 to attended Merredin High School, some seventy miles west of Southern Cross, my home. That distance necessitated staying in a high school hostel on one side of town, and walking to and from high school on the other side of town.

This was not the first and most traumatic separation from my family, and it was not to be the last.

In 1960 I was switched to Governor Stirling Senior High School in Midland Junction (as it was then) and was placed in Swanleigh, a one-time orphanage in Middle Swan. Swanleigh was set in farmland, Midland Junction was inaccessible. I travelled home by train every three months for all-too-short vacations (ex Midland Junction at 17:15, arrive Southern cross 02:15 the next morning; ex Southern Cross 00:15 arrive Midland Junction 09:00)

Any time you want me to drone on about a terrifying experience, just let me know.

Here’s the kicker: Governor Stirling Senior High School in Midland Junction was the top high school in the state of Western Australia, population about one million at that time. I believe that the matriculation rate in my final year was 98.5%. I think that means that only one student who sat for the state-wide exams failed.

My Mathematics teacher Mr. Brian Feld Geography (Mr. Pierre deKurloi) and Physics teacher (Mr. Puzey) above all others primed me not only with the ability to pass with good marks, but gave me the keys to the Universe.

At the end of first-term exams at University, one of the posh Public Schools graduates, Hunter Gillies, admitted to me that the state school kids (including me) had it all over the Public School kids (him).

I think that was so.

Late in life I still amaze people by my ability to take established facts and build theories that are demonstrated to be try when put to the test.

My education at Governor Stirling Senior High School was excellent.

It was made possible only by my stay at Swanleigh, the second most miserable time of my life.