North & South


“So, you’d like to teach 22 five-year-olds?”

The principal eyed me up across her desk and I suddenly thought, Actually, when you put it like that…

My head was busy nodding, though. Teaching at my kids’ school would be the next best thing to home-schooling them. (The latter was vetoed by my husband: it doesn’t pay the mortgage.) Not only that, I really wanted to teach at this particular primary. Right from when my oldest started there, I enjoyed the “village” feeling of the school community – no mean feat when the roll boasts nearly 800 students.

Returning to teaching after 14 years, smack-bang at a time when teacher salaries and industry morale are not merely in the doldrums, but in crisis? I blame Playcentre: halcyon days playing with my own and others’ preschoolers, experiencing first-hand the child development theory I’d swotted up on as an 18-year-old psych student. Being mother hen at Playcentre was a lark, smooshing cornflour-and-water “goop” all over dolls and ourselves, baking bikkies, constructing baking soda and vinegar volcanoes in the sandpit…

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