Episode 7 transcript

Talking Teaching with Maxine McKew and Professor Glyn Davis

[00:00:00.00] Maxine McKew:

I'm Maxine McKew, and this is Talking Teaching.

[00:00:14.05] Maxine McKew:

Hi there and good to have your company again. Well, as we all race towards the end of another crowded year, let's take some time to listen to the reflections of someone who I think has been one of Australia's most significant educational leaders.

In September, Professor Glyn Davis completed fourteen-years as Vice-Chancellor of The University of Melbourne. In that time, he engineered transformative change with the Melbourne model of integrated undergraduate and graduate education. Melbourne stature both nationally and internationally is undisputed and in particular, the Graduate School of Education is ranked No. 1 in Australia and No. 6 globally. Glyn has rebuilt the university, new learning spaces are inviting places and most important there are more campus coffee shops or carts that you can count. It's a buzzy place or as Glyn would say, a place of brilliant minds who care deeply about teaching, research and engagement.

One of the things of which he's most proud is that Melbourne now attracts students from right across the country and from next year there will be a further broadening of scholarships to enable entry for a more diverse cohort. A writer, a teacher and a wide reader, Glyn Davis loves the contest of ideas and lively conversation about all matter of things. He cares deeply about the state of education which was why I was keen to grab thirty or so minutes of his time before he left the campus to start the next phase of his professional life, possibly in philanthropy.

So, settle back and listen to Glyn Davis as he talks about leadership, the different ways that students are engaging with technology and about the joy of teaching. Glyn welcome to our final episode of Talking Teaching for the year.

[00:02:00.24] Glyn Davis:

Thank you Maxine.

[00:02:01.25] Maxine McKew:

You made your formal exit as Vice-Chancellor of this university in September and I must say, I was struck by the farewell note that you sent to all staff. You chose to honour the teaching profession by a great quote from Robert Bolts play, A Man For All Seasons. I'm wondering if you could tell us that and perhaps give us the context.

[00:02:20.13] Glyn Davis:

Sure Maxine there's a lovely scene in the play fairly early on, where Sir Thomas More is counselling a young man about his future and his career, and he urges him, "Be a teacher, you could be a great teacher, you could really get a lot out of this," and the young man is deeply sceptical. "If I was," he said, "Who would know it?" And Sir Thomas responds, "Well you, your pupils, your friends, God, not a bad public that." It's a lovely reminder that teachers matter.

[00:02:51.22] Maxine McKew:

It's a nice quote and of course you went on in that note Glyn to say, "As teachers, we participate in the unbroken transmission of ideas and mission, renewal and discovery across generations." I thought really that conveys a great sense of purpose for teachers, doesn't it?

[00:03:09.17] Glyn Davis:

Absolutely, and who can teach without thinking about those who taught them? And, realising that they in turn learn from others, and so you really are part of a tradition. You're not just standing there by yourself, around you are people who taught you and in front of you are people, many of whom will become teachers.

[00:03:26.21] Maxine McKew:

When you look back, who are the teachers who lit a spark in you, either way back in school or early university days?

[00:03:33.13] Glyn Davis:

In school I went to a parochial Catholic primary school, so I only remember the terror of the Sisters of St Joseph, the 'show-no-mercy nuns' as they were sometimes called. They certainly run a disciplined class and then I realised looking back, they had fifty or more young people in their classrooms.

[00:03:52.05] Maxine McKew:

Hmm it was crowd control, wasn't it?

[00:03:53.22] Glyn Davis:

Crowd control and at a level of discipline just to keep the place sane. I don't envy them. I can't imagine what that was like because you can't see it as a small child, except you get a sense it's just occasionally veering toward running out of control. And, then to a high-school that was of mixed quality teaching.

I think one of the things we often forget is how much the training has improved over the last generation and how better supported teachers are now than they were a generation earlier. Doesn't mean there weren't lots of outstanding individuals, but they weren't necessarily working in the right context and I think there's been measurable improvement and we should be really proud of that.

But, yes like everybody else I had a couple of favourite teachers who really encouraged me and one of whom after a class once sketched out for me how you went to university. I went to a school where very few people went to university and it wasn't at all clear to me how you did it, and I didn't know anyone growing up who'd been to university so, it wasn't like there were people to ask. And, he stayed behind, and he said, "You seemed interested and let me tell you how you do this." And, he actually walked me through the steps, which was remarkably helpful.

[00:05:04.12] Maxine McKew:

Hmm so, you didn't have a family that was putting university on the map for you?

[00:05:09.11] Glyn Davis:

Oh I had a family that was incredibly supportive of whatever I and my brothers chose to do, but my parents had both worked in journalism, that was their profession and that wasn't then a university-based profession on the contrary, you left school early, you went in as a copy boy, you got a cadetship if you were lucky and you rose through it. It was a traditional traineeship model and that was certainly my father's experience, and my mother had worked around some of the same areas, not with the same formal training.

So, no we didn't as a family know people who went to university. We didn't live in a suburb full of graduates, although I'm sure there were some, I just didn't know who they were. And, in truth other than visits to the doctor you didn't, and the dentist, I guess you didn't actually encounter people as a child who'd had university education. None of the teachers were university educated, they had mainly been to teacher’s college but certainly in the parochial schools, might not even have done that if it had come through a religious order. So, yes, they had training of their own sort and important training but not the training I became familiar with later on as a university person.

[00:06:19.15] Maxine McKew:

So how did you come to choose your subjects for instance, and your undergraduate degree? What were the influences there?

[00:06:24.21] Glyn Davis:

I guess, I assumed I would follow the family tradition and be a journalist and by that stage, people were starting to go to university and on to newspapers and in particular, not just my father but my grandfather had been a journalist so this was deeply part of our family and that meant we were interested in politics and interested in literature and they were essentially the choices I made.

And, at the end of my honours year I had the great pleasure of being supervised by Donald Horne who was a great Honours supervisor. I applied for a graduate cadetship at the Sydney Morning Herald and as a back-up in case, I applied for a Commonwealth Scholarship to do a PHD at the Australian National University. As it turned out, I got both and had a long dark night of the soul trying to work out which was the right choice for me and for various reasons I went with the scholarship and the PHD.

[00:07:14.02] Maxine McKew:

You mentioned there a Donald Horne, of course the late writer, author of the iconic, The Lucky Country, a public intellectual.

[00:07:20.15] Glyn Davis:

Very much so.

[00:07:20.22] Maxine McKew:

I'm just wondering, did he influence you in terms of the way your career has developed, not just as an academic but as very much someone who engages publicly with ideas?

[00:07:30.04] Glyn Davis:

I guess it did, I can't point to particular traces except to say, he was very much encouraging of the idea that you should speak and that Australia should be a place of lively debate and particularly in his autobiographies, and he wrote many, he told almost all parts of his story at some point, those were books about ideas and people and discussions and they gave you a sense of a life of the mind and what it would mean and they also said importantly that it was possible in this country.

For many of us growing up, every idea seemed to come from somewhere else and every discussion belonged to some other nation, and that was the sort of presumption that there wasn't much of value here necessarily and Donald Horne pushed hard against that. Much as in his own right, but by showing that other people also had ideas and arguments and that you could be part of this milieu even from Australia.

[00:08:25.18] Maxine McKew:

He was also a most interesting teacher and to come back to teaching, that's something you have continued to do as Vice-Chancellor, both initially at Griffith University and certainly at The University of Melbourne, what's been the buzz of teaching for you?

[00:08:39.16] Glyn Davis:

Well who doesn't love teaching? Who doesn't love sharing ideas and having the conversation with people? And, my idea of great teaching is conversation, it's I mean we can all give lectures but they're much less interesting than seminars and conversations in tutorials because it's the back and forth that makes it really interesting.

And, we all learn so much when we teach. So, the other great part of it is, it's very much uh everybody walks out enriched. If it's been a great class you've learned something from the people in front of you, they've challenged you, you've put some ideas in front of them and some of them they're bored, some of them you can see the scepticism on their face and you've got to go back and think well, either did I get that wrong and how I explained it all, maybe just maybe it isn't such a good way of framing the problem and that's just so rewarding.

[00:09:24.20] Maxine McKew:

In terms of educating the next generation of teachers, I mean whether it's for universities, for schools, for early-learning centres, what should universities focus on do you think?

[00:09:36.06] Glyn Davis:

This is the perennial question and it goes of course to how we frame the teaching. So, here at Melbourne we made a very conscious decision more than a decade ago to move to a graduate model for education. We basically said that education is a profession like other professions and you need a broad grounding in the arts and science before you even start. And, that's a luxury in a sense because it means you're taking in people who've already got majors in some of the things they're going to teach in schools and you can spend a lot of time thinking about pedagogy, thinking about technique, thinking about clinical applications of teaching because you don't have to also be trying to teach a substantive work that's going to inform their daily practice and that's important.

I was very keen on this model. It was pioneered by the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, then called the Faculty of Education by the Dean Field Rickard but also by the professoriate and beyond inside the faculty. It wasn't a single person, it was a very determined group of people who wanted to do teaching better and what a joy to fall in behind them and support them and help make it happen.

[00:10:46.18] Maxine McKew:

Whether it's that model or others pursued by different universities though, do you think we are looking at an enhanced status, enhanced training inevitably for teachers?

[00:10:57.29] Glyn Davis:

I expect that's the way the conversation is going. Much of the discussion today is more punitive than supportive. It's all about implying that there are people teaching who shouldn't be, or teaching, getting into teaching courses who shouldn't and punishing them for being there or imposing additional benchmarks before they're allowed to teach.

Now, there may be a role for that, but it strikes me that it's probably symptomatic rather than going to something more profound. Of course, the best people should go to teaching and if the best were going to teaching you have to reward that financially, you have to reward it in prestige, you have to give them a career that makes it worthwhile staying in the classroom. Other places manage to do this really well, it's the tradition in other nations to see this as amongst the most honourable positions as possible, why not here?

[00:11:44.20] Maxine McKew:

Indeed. I'd like to move our discussion now to that of students. I know you've not been a direct participant say in the schools debate of the past decade, but I'm interested in your observations about Australian student performance and as you know, as measured by PISA (referring to Programme for International Student Assessment) and PIRLS (referring to Progress in International Reading and Literacy Study), we have been in decline over the past decade. How confident are you we can reverse this?

[00:12:07.23] Glyn Davis:

There are experts on PISA scores, I'm not one of them, who do argue that what we're seeing is a shift in comparative rankings rather than absolute decline, that some other countries are really improving and overtaking us. And, so it may be that our position isn't quite as poor as it looks.

There's also, I understand evidence that the differentials between city, outer-metro and regional are really profound and that if you draw a line basically within city boundaries in Australia, you get PISA scores that are as good as most in the world, and it's the aggregate scores that come through which tells us that our focus and our resources are probably not going where they're needed which is clearly outer-metro and into the regions, and that might be where the investment is needed. It seems to me that these are addressable problems, if we can do very well in the cities, we can do very well everywhere.

So, we have to work out what it is we're not doing in other places and how we can address them so, I think both in absolute terms but also in comparative terms, yes we could lift our scores, I don't think this is an inevitable decline but we need to work out what does the evidence tell us and what are the actions required to address that.

[00:13:16.26] Maxine McKew:

Let's talk about the ways that students are learning these days, because you've been saying some very interesting things about this. Your thoughts on how students are learning, particularly with the use of technology.

[00:13:29.10] Glyn Davis:

Well I can only talk about universities and so, it's quite a different setting in schools. But, I've always been fascinated to watch how students use the technology and you can do that in university because students hang around in the corridors and in the rooms and in the libraries in particular.

[00:13:45.13] Maxine McKew:

And, the coffee shops.

[00:13:46.01] Glyn Davis:

And, the coffee shops, and you can just wander through and look at how they're doing things and this first caught my eye when people were moaning, falling attendance at lectures and it's true, less and less people go to lectures and yet all of our data told us, as we've got wireless and how many people are logged into the wireless so we know how many people are on campus at any one time, less people going to lectures, more people are coming to campus, how do we reconcile this? Well, in part they're coming to campus to use the wireless of course as it's very good, and it's been good for a long time, pre-NBN it was world standard.

And, if you watch students watch lectures online, they behave completely differently. I've seen people go through a lecture at double speed or one and a half times speed, and mark the passages they want to come back to and then they've come back and they've gone over and over a particular passage or problem that they want to understand so, they've used the rewind function, they've fast-forwarded, come back, fast-forwarded, come back and taken detailed notes on the parts of the lecture that speaks to the things they want to get from them. In that way, they're actually more attentively using the resource than they could've if they were in the lecture theatre.

[00:15:00.29] Maxine McKew:

And they're probably doing that with some friends and discussing parts of it as well, so they're working collaboratively.

[00:15:06.16] Glyn Davis:

Yep, you often see three or four people clustered around the same computer arguing about what it is they're seeing on the screen. You can't do that in a classroom so, we should be a bit careful about jumping to conclusions that it's necessarily a bad thing that people don't want to be in the lecture theatre necessarily.

[00:15:21.21] Maxine McKew:

What's it mean for all those wonderful lecture theatres that you've built though?

[00:15:25.11] Glyn Davis:

Well we stopped building them here for quite some time ago for that very reason. All the new teaching spaces as you know Maxine, are all designed around seminars, small teaching spaces, small groups because that's how people use them. You use big lecture theatres often for first year lectures where people are learning their way in, but also for public events where you do need a big space, but less and less are we using them as the core delivering mechanism for major teaching.

[00:15:53.03] Maxine McKew:

I think there is probably an interesting link here with schools and that is perhaps preparing students for precisely this kind of learning that you've described. Does that then lead to, we've got a bit of a binary argument about this at the moment, but this question of whether you're teaching for content at schools or more for the development of critical thinking skills.

[00:16:13.03] Glyn Davis:

And, of course you're doing both all the time and that's in a sense, it's by interrogating content that you teach critical thinking and so, the most interesting classes are the one where you take it apparently uncontroversial factor then you unpick it and try and get behind it and understand why people might discuss an issue in this way and what the alternatives are and by the time you're finished, you've often got a really great sense that actually this is not as simple as it seemed and not as straightforward as it seemed and there are legitimate contending views on this question, at which point you've taught the content really effectively but no one's missed the underlying lesson which is about how to think about a problem.

[00:16:49.04] Maxine McKew:

You've also written extensively about the need for much greater choice for our post-secondary students when it comes to a university or whatever, realistically what do you think the future landscape will be looking like for tertiary students in Australia? Are we going to see more of the specialist universities that you've talked about, perhaps micro-credentialing?

[00:17:10.21] Glyn Davis:

I think micro-credentialing is with us now, so it's clearly going to be a part of the future, that means a whole lot of other players can dive into this, but we shouldn't forget that brand matters and that people do want to be associated with a great institution, university, college, school, otherwise, so they're not necessarily just going to go onto the web and pick the cheapest product and grab it, it's not how they behave in other areas, it won't be how they behave with education necessarily.

What I worry about, is Australia has over the last generation created very large institutions and only very large institutions. You want to go to a university in Australia? You're going to a large university, that's just how it is.

[00:17:50.29] Maxine McKew:

And we keep duplicating.

[00:17:52.13] Glyn Davis:

We keep duplicating and we haven't created any new institutions for twenty-five years. And, one of the interesting questions, are we just going to go on growing as we grow as a nation? Or, does there come a time in which we say, as they did in the 1960's in Australia, it's time to consciously create some new and different institutions rather than just replicate what we have. We've been very reluctant to do that, it's more expensive than just funding at the margins, new places in existing universities, where it comes a point in which we're going to need that diversity.

We're also going to need specialist institutions in a way that are very hard to sustain in big places at the moment. If you want to learn acting in this country, and there are fine actors, they're a handful of schools that do a fabulous job, they all have to be cross subsidised from somewhere else because the funding rate makes it very difficult. But, if we're going to produce those sorts of skills and a whole range of other areas of highly specialised knowledge, we really do need to think about have we really got the institutional framework right to do that?

[00:18:50.05] Maxine McKew:

Has that been the biggest public policy disappointment for you during this period that in fact, successive governments have really turned their backs on this?

[00:19:01.09] Glyn Davis:

Well yes, I'd frame it slightly differently, I'd say the disappointment for me is that there are really simple ways available to government to open up the system, they go to funding rates, they go to accreditation, there's a range of instruments that are open and nobody's got an interest in using them. And, so we haven't seen the experimentation and the encouragement of diversity. We've had brief moments.

We were able to introduce the Melbourne model because then Minister Julie Bishop signalled that she'd like institutions to try things, she was looking for experimentation. We came with a proposal about how to do that, one that cost the Commonwealth nothing I should say, required permission rather than money, she was very generous in her support of that, and we were able to make I think a significant difference but, those moments are very rare and it's hard to point to another one since and it's not that we haven't had fine ministers necessarily, it's just that all institutional pressures are toward conformity, toward a single model and away from the idea that diversity might inherently be worthwhile.

[00:20:04.26] Maxine McKew:

Let me turn to the issue of leadership, again something that you've written extensively about and it's an issue we keep returning to on this podcast, whether it's a school or university, to be an educational leader requires quite specific skills so, Glyn what have you learned about what's required of educational leaders?

[00:20:25.27] Glyn Davis:

Look it's a great question, not an easy one to answer because it's hard to separate your own experience from in a sense what a more sustained look at the evidence might mean. The education leaders I've admired have all led by example, so they have actually been in the classroom, they've shown that they can do what they ask others to do, and I think while technically not necessary, I think it's actually important for motivation and I think a principal who isn't themselves a skilled teacher struggles to carry the credibility with other teachers which is when they want to talk about pedagogy, when they want to improve standards. If it sounds like do as I say, not as I do, why would anyone follow you?

So, you need some credibility as a leader and now and again, governments or governing councils mutter about it, would it be good to get business skills in leading universities or something, they miss the point about the activity, what it is that we do in institutions, same is true in schools. So, that's the first thing, I think you do actually need source credibility, it actually matters.

The second is, that it's about the team that then leads, it isn't the person, it isn't the leader, it's the team. And, really clever leaders know what they're good at and what they're not good at, and they build a team around it so that the portfolio of skills is superb, even if no one is an expert of everything, and that's so important, whereas poor leaders pick people like themselves and so, the team is narrow and it's got no diversity and there's no argument because it's full of people who are similar so, the most impressive leadership teams in any education institution, school or university I've seen have been lively and argumentative because that's actually how you can lead well.

And then, there's a third characteristic which I might frame as tolerance though it's probably better thought of as encouragement, really good leaders are willing to try and fail and willing to let others more importantly, try and fail and so, the great schools are the ones where a teacher does have an idea for how we can do something differently, pictures it, gets support, tries it and in a sense the lessons are then shared across the school and if it succeeds brilliant, and if it doesn't well we learn something anyway about how this school community operates. So, I've been hugely impressed by this.

A lot of leadership is actually about encouraging others. It's not about the leader. The best natural leader I ever saw was in my son's cricket team. He was the coach. He was a middle-ranking public servant out of the transport department and he wasn't to be honest one of the world's great cricket teams. They struggled to get a team. It was a mixed team, there were girls and boys. Most of the teams they played were just all boy teams and it would be fair to say that the skills weren't as highly developed as they could be, and I watched this man encourage this team. He found something to praise for everybody in the team, he made them learn how to praise each other when they did well and how to console each other when they made mistakes. He made them all heroes. He told big stories about each of them, so they felt really proud of what they had done. And, this is not like a Hollywood film. They didn't go on to win the series or anything. They did go on to perform better than they would've on the basis of their natural talents, but they did feel so engaged with what they were doing, they were so excited they wanted to be at cricket practice, they wanted to play on Saturday's, and I watched from the sidelines as one parent amongst many and thought, there's an awful lot to learn from this man. Very small setting but it stayed with me very firmly.

[00:24:10.21] Maxine McKew:

One other thing I do want to ask you about and that is that, leaders often need to be big change makers, sometimes to really upend the system and you did that here at The University of Melbourne. We have school principals in the system who often have to go into a very dysfunctional school and do some things that make them really unpopular for twelve months or so, what's that like? I mean you must've had some moments there where you knew people were chattering about you and all the rest of it, and that can't have been pleasant. How do leaders navigate their way through that?

[00:24:45.08] Glyn Davis:

Well the first thing, on the chatter about you is it doesn't matter as long as you don't listen to it, as long as you don't hear it.

[00:24:52.01] Maxine McKew:

Ignore the gossip you mean?

[00:24:53.04] Glyn Davis:

If anyone tries to tell you the gossip, you have to say, "I don't want to know, I can't know and don't tell me." It's better that you don't know what people are saying about you than that you try to respond to it because that actually starts changing your behaviour. But, I think the fundamental thing about change is it works when you've brought the community together, agreed the change is necessary even if it's not popular, and you can remind people that this is a shared journey all the way through and yes, there are people who don't like it and who quit and who'll criticise but, if you don't start with the credibility that says, we discussed this, we agreed the problems, we know where we're going, and we know why we're doing this, then you've got no pathway and what often happens is people announce very large changes, they come in and they do a survey, they bring some consultants in, they announce a very large change and they discover that it falls over because the journey doesn't carry people and they resist or they just pay no attention.

To work a change has to involve everybody, it has to be agreed even if it's not welcomed as it were, it has to be understood and you can't communicate too much along the journey about what we're doing, why we're doing it, remember that we agreed this and then, this is how it's going to look when it's done. Celebrating the changes so that you actually acknowledge them along the way, the markers, telling people when it's over is a really important one, now this is the new normal, this is the new state we've got here, now we make this work so, that people feel that they're on a journey and that they're part of what it is you're doing.

[00:26:23.21] Maxine McKew:

You make that sound so easy.

[00:26:25.23] Glyn Davis:

It's not easy for anybody.

[00:26:27.22] Maxine McKew:

But, still there must've been moments for you when you thought, I've really got to hold my metal here.

[00:26:35.22] Glyn Davis:

Yeah, and then that's one of the tests of leadership. Can you be firm, clear, calm? Can you walk through this, carry people, instil confidence that the journey's worth doing and can be done, and not look like you're panicking? The moment you panic as leader you've sort of licenced to everybody to run away, so it's just part of the skills, there's a degree of acting involved.

[00:27:01.13] Maxine McKew:

Glyn just a couple of final points. It's also been important to you in your time as Vice-Chancellor, for you to maintain your own scholarly and research interests, has that been really quite sustaining for you, in what has been a difficult administrator job?

[00:27:16.28] Glyn Davis:

Sure. It's a bit like teaching. If you can research, why wouldn't you? It's such an enjoyable thing to do, to do original research and to write about it, but it also goes to the credibility point, if you're going to ask your colleagues to work very hard on difficult projects around research and teaching, you lead by example.

If you don't research, you cannot really clearly ask others to get involved if you don't teach, how can you claim to know what happens in the classroom, to have a sense of what it's like to be in front of a class? I mean, one of the confronting things about walking now into any university lecture, when we do do a traditional lecture is you're staring at people with laptops open and you can just see the back of the laptop with the Apple symbol and you're talking to them rather than to the faces which you can dimly see behind them and you have no idea whether they're watching you or whether they're chatting with each other on social media, the point being that if you haven't been in a classroom recently you don't have that sense and then you've got to work out what are ways of engaging people around that enormous constraint, it's actually quite confronting but it's an important reminder that the world has changed.

[00:28:23.27] Maxine McKew:

You've also been writing, I know you're a voracious reader, perhaps we could end actually on reading because I love this quote from Barack Obama when he left The White House, the New York Times interviewed him about his reading and of course he said that was so critical to him because it gave him time to actually slow down to get a sense of perspective and of course, what he says he got from writers, from historians was that sense of the complexity of the human condition. I imagine you relate to that.

[00:28:56.29] Glyn Davis:

Very much so. Reading is how you work out what other minds make of the same issues you're grappling with and it's how you get into fields you don't know enough about but someone else has thought a lot of time thinking about it, or it's how you get enthused about knowledge and what it can be.

We have the great privilege here at Melbourne of working with our colleague Peter McPhee, historian of the French Revolution and again, I've watched Peter just get large rooms excited about what we can learn about the dynamics of politics from the example of the French Revolution, the interplay of biography, historical circumstances, economics and international relations, all coming to bear on a particular moment or decision or place, and Peter specialises in taking small towns outside Paris and asking, what did the revolution mean here? How did it change lives? You can't go through that without retaining a life-long interest in the revolution or without wanting to pick up Peter's book.

[00:29:54.15] Maxine McKew:

And, yourself?

[00:29:55.08] Glyn Davis:

I'm very interested in contemporary fiction and I try to read widely and I've been trying in the last few years to read predominantly women because you want to hear voices outside your own experience and you want to see how the world looks to others and so that's been really enjoyable.

[00:30:11.19] Maxine McKew:

And, actually Australian female fiction is very rich, isn't it? Lots of wonderful writers are coming to the fore.

[00:30:16.19] Glyn Davis:

Absolutely, I've just finished reading Pat Barker's, The Silence of the Girls, which is her retelling of I guess the end of the Iliad from the perspective of a captive woman in the Greek camp, a Trojan woman, Briseis in the Greek camp and it's really imaginative retelling of a story that whereas the Iliad is heroic and extraordinary, she's telling what life is like not on the frontline which is all the epic tales but what it's like behind the scenes as it were, the harshness of the treatment of the women, the lottery about who thrives and who doesn't, it's a very interesting take on a familiar story, that it's brilliant to see it done that way.

[00:31:03.02] Maxine McKew:

Well see you've got a lot of traveling coming up, what's on your list?

[00:31:05.14] Glyn Davis:

So, over the Summer I've got some interesting new poetry to read. David Malouf has a new book out which I'm really excited about anything, I'll read anything about David Malouf.

[00:31:13.14] Maxine McKew:

He's also written about the Trojan wars.

[00:31:15.04] Glyn Davis:

He has Ransom which is one of his great books and as it turns out, might be his last novel because of some stories saying he's not going to write another one but, it is a brilliant novel to finish on if that's the one he's going to do and it has a remarkable meditation in the middle about what it means to be an authority figure and how an authority figure is there for other people, not for themselves and how Priam is the person he is talking about has to appear to be unchanging because that's what people want, they want stability in their lives and they want this authority figure never to shift and even though he's now old and infirm, they don't see that because all they see is what they expect to see, not actually what's there at all. It's a stunningly good book.

[00:31:59.02] Maxine McKew:

Glyn this has been so enjoyable.

[00:32:01.20] Glyn Davis:

Thank you Maxine.

[00:32:02.19] Maxine McKew:

We know you're going to continue to be seen on campus, we certainly hope so, but look in all your endeavours over the next couple of years we wish you all good things so thanks for being part of Talking Teaching with us.

[00:32:13.04] Glyn Davis:

And, thank you and congratulations on building this fabulous podcast because this is a great audience you're bringing together and you're encouraging a conversation we need to have.

[00:32:22.07] Maxine McKew:

And, just a post-script Glyn will be continuing to teach classes in one of his new roles as Professor of Political Science at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the ANU (Australian National University).

Well that's it from the Talking Teaching team this year. Thanks so much to all of you for tuning in and for your feedback. We'll be back in February with lots of stories about what's going on in the classroom and in education generally.

Thanks as well to Gavin Nebauer, our Sound Engineer and the Composer of the musical theme that opens and closes this podcast, thanks as well to the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and its army of splendid experts whose work does so much to inform this podcast and a final thanks to the Ramsay Foundation for their generous support, it's much appreciated. Bye for now and have a great Summer break.