The Australian Education Reporter - - THE INTERVIEW - EMMA DAVIES

Lionel Cranenburgh is an ex­pe­ri­enced and pas­sion­ate ed­u­ca­tor, who cur­rently di­rects a WA based ca­reer de­vel­op­ment and train­ing com­pany spe­cial­is­ing in teacher and prin­ci­pal pro­gres­sion.

Q. What led you to be­come a teacher?

I’d love to say it was my pas­sion to make a dif­fer­ence, but in re­al­ity, it was the only job I could get in Ban­ga­lore, India so I be­came a se­condary teacher in an in­de­pen­dent boys school.

Q. What is your ca­reer path as an ed­u­ca­tor?

I’ve been as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of English Lit­er­a­ture at a univer­sity in India, se­nior lec­turer at TAFE in Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, head of English in the West Aus­tralian ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, as well as stints as an ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cer and prin­ci­pal.

Q. How did you be­come a teacher in WA af­ter em­i­grat­ing from India in 1970?

I only had three pounds ster­ling, a wife and child to sup­port and twins on the way. I ap­plied to the Ar­madale se­nior high school to be a gar­dener.

The prin­ci­pal was sur­prised to learn that I was one of the few teach­ers with a Mas­ter of Arts de­gree in WA. I was happy when he of­fered me a job as an English teacher.

Q. What are you most proud of in your ca­reer as an ed­u­ca­tor?

There are sev­eral things. In the 70s schools in WA did not cater for gifted and tal­ented chil­dren.

I formed an or­ga­ni­za­tion called the gifted and tal­ented chil­dren’s as­so­ci­a­tion of WA; it’s still go­ing.

As schools didn’t want to do any­thing, to get things mov­ing I started small en­rich­ment projects run by vol­un­teer par­ents.

I or­ga­nized ses­sions where fa­mous au­thors like El­iz­a­beth Jol­ley and univer­sity lec­tur­ers did work­shops for gifted kids on Sun­day. We had pro­grams from pre-school to year 12.

Q. What was the out­come?

The Aus­tralian news­pa­per placed ban­ners on Perth’s streets say­ing ‘WA Su­per Kids In New Test Pro­gram’, and schools across Aus­tralia asked me to tell them how they could start pro­grams like ours.

I was asked by the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment of WA to plan a pro­gram that would launch gifted and tal­ented pro­grams in WA and I did. Q. What led you to be­come a jour­nal­ist? The Re­gent In­sti­tute of Lon­don trained me in short story writ­ing and jour­nal­ism. I worked as a free­lance jour­nal­ist for

Ed­u­ca­tion World, the West Aus­tralian and Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion for many years and have over 50 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence as a jour­nal­ist and lec­turer in jour­nal­ism.

I started a group of cadet jour­nal­ists called The Class­room Press.

I taught them how to in­ter­view politi­cians, re­search sto­ries, cre­ate reader in­ter­est, and re­port on lo­cal gov­ern­ment and per­son­al­i­ties like for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Paul Keat­ing and the first fe­male La­bor sen­a­tor Su­san Ryan.

One of the cadets be­came a jour­nal­ist for the Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald and oth­ers won awards in writ­ing com­pe­ti­tions.

Q. What ad­vice do you have for grad­u­ates in teach­ing or those want­ing to teach?

Each teacher is unique. You need to build your own iden­tity as a teacher.

Share your spe­cial tal­ents with stu­dents as kids know when they are get­ting a ‘real deal’.

The best train­ing is to ob­serve mas­ter-class teach­ers and get them to men­tor you. Let them ob­serve you and give you feed­back.

Q. What kind of pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment would you rec­om­mend for teach­ers?

Pro­fes­sional learn­ing should be fu­ture-fo­cused and rel­e­vant.

I see lit­tle value in do­ing pro­fes­sional learn­ing to show that you have at­tended lots of cour­ses.

I be­lieve teach­ers should con­duct tri­als of key con­cepts and re­fine their prac­tice to achieve long-term gains.

Q. Is it more chal­leng­ing be­ing a teacher to­day than when you be­gan your ca­reer?

Yes. There is more com­pe­ti­tion for jobs, an over-crowded syl­labus, the sys­tem re­quires you to as­sess stu­dents con­tin­u­ally and bu­reau­crats put pres­sure on teach­ers to com­ply with gov­ern­ment agen­das.

Teach­ers deal with the pres­sure in much the same way that sur­geons or ath­letes do when fac­ing chal­lenges.

Deal with chal­lenges, learn from them and light a spark by bring­ing your own brand of in­no­va­tion to teach­ing.

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