"Monash University 1965
By March, university start, I felt ready for study, but again I had no idea about what lay before me. After night school the year before, I was ready and willing to put in the long hours necessary for success, but was totally ignorant of the modus operandi of universities. Orientation week is but a blur. Being a very busy ‘part-timer’, I had no time for the advantages of career counselling or course advice, so I simply bit off more than what I could chew. Having enrolled in first year Politics without any background at secondary level or the faintest understanding of political parties, let alone political theory, I was a babe in the woods, who attended lectures, took copious notes but made little sense of the subject.
My Tuesdays were spent teaching a whole day to very demanding junior classes (after several hours of preparation and correction the night before), followed by a jump in the car, a sizeable drive to Monash- at Clayton, find a park in a busy car park patrolled by eagle-eyed inspectors, then tear towards the lecture theatre.
Already all but the back row was crammed with young eggheads, bright-eyed and enthusiastic looking types.. Much of my energy was dissipated by now, replaced by weary acknowledgement that there was still a job to do. I sat, listened and scrawled until I drifted off, only awakened by my hand as is cauight my pen before it hit the floor with a thud.
Sometimes Id woke after a heavy dream. Way down the front our lecturer and a student were haranguing each other in front of the assembled throng of 200 students. The lecturer’s name I have forgotten, but his assailant, one Albert L.., caught my eye many a time in the newspapers. Perhaps younger students thought such interruptions funny or just light relief for post-session speculation. I was not amused that that precious ten minutes was squandered for such indulgence!.
So I failed politics but, after three years of excruciating toil had gained a pass in three first year subjects. In the interim though, I’d been granted some part-time leave from my teaching duties so, after only half a day of school teaching, I could drive in less of a mad rush to the Monash campus, have a light lunch in the cafeteria and pretend that I was a university student. Thus, while I didn’t learn much, I did gain some paper credits….
My Indonesian language experience, where we were taught in a laboratory by a native-speaking Indonesian with recent experience in teaching short course Bahasa Indonesia to air force personnel, left me floundering and lost. Half his class (including me) failed initially, but, reassessed, gained credit for the subject.
My other ‘success’ was French. After my seven years of studying French, I could read novels fluently in this beautiful language. Yet, when my wife and I travelled to Paris some years later, my effort at finding the nearest station in French was ridiculed. Why? Instead of asking the closest Frenchman where was the station (“Ou est la gare?”) , I blurted out, where was the war? (Ou est la guerre?) I won’t bother to report his answer but, c’est la vie!
After four years of trying to balance a busy teaching career with part-time study, my efforts had met with limited success. I became an easy target for the myriad of recruitment posters arriving from Canada and the USA. As several colleagues had already signed to join the exodus to teach or study overseas, I became more and more interested. Yet, with just a two year primary school teaching certificate and three first year degree subjects, I didn’t have much chance of getting a job in a larger Canadian city where I could also study"
George William Gunton