Forty-eight years ago, Peter Robinson started his teaching career without any actual teacher training.
Just engaging purposefully with teenagers is a really enriching and enlivening thing to do. It's either they'll drive you mad or they're tremendousPeter Robinson
You could say that’s worked out OK.
For Mr Robinson has been a familiar face at North Albury’s Xavier High School since 1971, teaching English, serving as English co-ordinator for 30 years and more recently curriculum co-ordinator for three years.
“I’ve been teaching the children of ex-students for a long time now,” he said.
“It’s nice, I like that aspect of being in the one place,” he said.
Mr Robinson, 71, will officially retire next year, but owing to long service leave his effective final day will be December 19.
“It’s not entirely real yet in some ways, but I’m happy about it,” he said.
“I’ve been ticking off playground duties, certainly.”
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Born in Albury and a former Albury High School student, Mr Robinson describes his entry into teaching as “almost accidental”.
Studying an English literature degree but unsure where that might take him, he joined the profession as an untrained graduate, a common classification at the time.
After a six-month stint at Holbrook Central School in 1970, he arrived at the then all-boys Aquinas College the following year.
“For me it was quite alien, because it was a Christian Brothers school and I wasn’t a Catholic, so it was quite a different kind of way of life,” he said.
“I was busy working out what it is to be a teacher at the same time as I was working out what a Christian Brother was.”
In his first year, the young teacher mentioned to his principal a couple of year 12 boys weren’t taking him seriously.
“I was 24 and I was smaller and skinnier than they were,” Mr Robinson said.
“His advice was ‘Don’t let them get on top of you’ … it was a sink or swim environment a little bit.
“That’s how I learned to do what I do, because I had to.
“When I started teaching there was a lot of freedom in teaching English.
“I think by the late ’70s the syllabus might have been 20 pages long and it’s now about 150 or 200 pages.”
Mr Robinson witnessed the gradual amalgamation of Aquinas College and St Joseph’s Ladies College that created Xavier High School in 1983. The year 11 and 12 boys made an immediate impression at St Joseph’s.
“These were barbarians invading what had been a very peaceful, or apparently peaceful, feminine environment, so that was fairly lively for a while,” he recalled.
Mr Robinson, who did later complete an education diploma, said his students and his colleagues had kept him teaching at Xavier.
“It was just a nice place to be and I was comfortable and I couldn’t see any good reason to move on,” he said.
“We’ve got a really good staff and have had over the years.”
“Just engaging purposefully with teenagers is a really enriching and enlivening thing to do.
“It’s either they’ll drive you mad or they’re tremendous and I’ve really enjoyed that side of it.
“You stay in one place for a long time, the world passes in front of you in many ways, it wasn’t that I lacked variety over the years.
“The kids are always different and the staff changes and the school went through those different formations, so there was always something new coming over the horizon.”
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