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Director's cut — January 2006

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January 1, 2006 by Tara Brabazon

Greetings to members and lurkers.

Like most of us in the PCC who teach for a living — and respect to you all — December and January is a frantic time of reading, writing and organising. The attention to detail is extraordinary. Yet teaching is meant to be a simple craft. Certainly, at its best, there is a craft in the best classrooms. But there is also an art in giving the ordinary revelatory power.

In my mental travels through words and ideas, I pulled out my Penguin Great Ideas books. These small, thin volumes were — and are — part of the Penguin project to make good books available for everyone to read, at a cost they can afford. Education became a popular project. There are currently twenty in this series, and I nearly have them all. So evocative to read, so tactile to hold, I invariably remember where I was when I first read these books.

My strangest memory is reading George Orwell's Why I Write at Perth Airport waiting for my husband to come back from England. Waiting in the holding area at airports is like being locked in a sheep pen, being too confused to know the right behaviour in this situation. So I iPod, read and basically disconnect myself from the physical environment.

While in my pop bubble, a woman who I went to school with, which was a long time ago now — dinosaurs roamed the earth — asked if I remembered her. I didn't. She then told me about her life — seemingly without pause. The marriage, the children, the divorce, the current partner, the people at school she still talks to.

While I had no response to her life story, but wished her well, Orwell's words flooded my mind. Why we write and why we read is to transport ourselves beyond the narratives of our small lives, to transcend into a world of hope and opportunity, but also to transform the attitudes and sensibilities of those around us.

Even in an airport — the end of the world — the meanings of writing and reading are starkly clear.

To all the teachers and students in the Collective, I wish you a successful and passionate academic year. Always know — what you do for the planet really matters.

Be well.