Truly listen, and never stop learning

25 OCTOBER 2023

Truly listen, and never stop learning

A mature-age Charles Sturt University student is surprised but enthusiastic to find he is studying to be a primary school teacher late in his working career.

Reflecting on World Teachers’ Day on Friday 27 October, Mr David Watts (pictured above, in class) said he didn’t in a million years think he would be studying to be a ‘classroom teacher’ when he was 58 years old.

“But that is what happens when you say ‘yes’ to things like taking a job in an industry that you had never, ever considered,” he said.

In July 2022, David commenced studying a Bachelor of Educational Studies online in the Charles Sturt School of Education with the support of the Collaborative Teachers’ Aide Pathway (CTAP).

The Bachelor of Educational Studies provides a pathway for people with previous vocational or university study and relevant work experience to enter the teaching profession.

David said he would not have considered starting the degree without the availability of ‘vocational credits’ towards completion of the degree.

“Credits for vocational experience shortened the course to three years, and they are also very useful to enable access to the dedicated program support leaders rather than the usual student support staff,” he said.

“This means I have been able to discuss very specific details with them, and they have always been really, really helpful.”

David grew up in England, on the Atlantic coast; “Picture the coastline in the popular TV show ‘Doc Martin’”, he said. (He's pictured at left as a child in a Dartmoor stream, supervised by his mother.)

He moved to Australia in 1995 and now lives in Sydney’s Inner West with his life partner, two teenage sons, a dog and chickens.

In his 20s David gained a degree in aquaculture at an agricultural college but didn’t use the qualification until he landed a job in the animal displays section at Sydney Aquarium where he worked for 22 years.

Following this he worked as Aquatics Curator at Sydney Zoo for 18 months before falling into a Teacher’s Aide role at a Catholic Primary school in Granville, which led to his current studies.

David is on the pathway to primary teaching.

“I like the diversity of teaching all the subjects in primary, plus I can mostly do the maths,” he said.

His areas of expertise are literacy, with a focus on English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) learners, and science, although he says he has a new-found appreciation of all subjects from drama to art to history and, yes, even maths.

In addition to the well-rounded nature of primary teaching, David was inspired to take studies further because of the positive school environment he encountered.

“Everyone thinks of teaching as a ‘caring profession’ but I remember being so impressed with the authentic level of concern and commitment teachers showed for each student, and I thought I would really like to be part of that process,” he said.

“Contributing to the astonishing journey of students from kindergarten onwards is wonderful.”

Reflecting on his ambition, David said a couple of health scares recently have increased his focus on having an even more purposeful life.

“I want to be a classroom teacher, even though I may only have about 10 years maximum of working life left  ̶  I will graduate at 60 if all goes well  ̶  so I have no ambition to ‘climb the ladder’,” he said.

“Maybe it was an inevitability, however, it occurred to me a few months after starting the course that my mother had been a primary school teacher, and suddenly there was the gentle thud of ‘the acorn falling not far from the tree’.”

Now with a deeper appreciation of World Teachers’ Day, David advises his fellow students and the next generation of teachers to “Truly listen, and never stop learning”.

“While I never thought that teaching was an easy job, I had no idea until I started working in the education sector just how much teachers give, how much care they genuinely take in their roles and how much of this is unseen,” he said.

“This deserves to be recognised and celebrated.”


Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Mr David Watts contact Bruce Andrews at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0418 669 362 or news@csu.edu.au

Photos: provided by David Watts

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