Table manners and morals: who is teaching our kids?
With an impressive 35 years of teaching experience under his belt, Eamonn Moore is excited to be kicking off the 2020 school year by taking up his new appointment as principal of McAuley Catholic Central School (Years K to 10) in Tumut.
The married father of two has spent the last 11 years as Deputy Head and Head of the Junior School at Marist College.
Throughout his career, Eamonn has taught at schools in rural NSW and Canberra. McAuley will be his ninth school and the fourth time he has taken up the role of Principal.
He recently spoke to Catholic Voice about all things teaching, from the increasing pressure on teachers to be “quasi-parents” to the lack of male Primary teachers and the importance of homework.
How are you feeling about your new role as Principal at McAuley?
I’m really excited about being part of a rural community again and I’m really excited about the opportunities that a Kinder to Year 10 school will bring.
We’ve already had some impact from the bush fires down there in Tumut. I know about 15 families have been impacted in various ways. One family and one member of staff have lost their homes so we’ll be looking to support them in lots of ways. So I’ve started a little earlier than I expected but I’m looking forward to making my mark in another school.
What do you love about teaching in rural schools?
I think there’s a greater sense of community in a rural school and I sense that families really value what teachers do and they are really interested and committed to the school. The school is really the focal point as part of the parish and the church. There’s also that heritage and the history that it’s a country town where their father, mother and grandparents went to the same school. There’s that history and link with the place that makes it really special.
What attracted you to teaching in the first place?
Teaching was something I always wanted to do. I was influenced by a couple of teachers I had, male teachers especially. I think teaching for a man can be a really rewarding career. Sometimes it’s seen as a bit of a woman’s domain but I’ve always really enjoyed being a positive male role model.
Currently, only about 18 percent of primary teachers are men. Why is that?
I sense that some young guys get put off by the fear of being too physical with kids or not being able to give a kid a cuddle in the playground when he’s fallen over and skinned his knee. That creates nervousness in some young guys.
So I think that’s possibly a large part of the problem but there’s also a lot of expectation on teachers now days. There’s a lot of data gathering and comparing, where people might feel under the pump to be seen performing well.
What’s your response to the view that primary teaching is just “glorified babysitting”?
I challenge anyone to spend a morning in front of 30 kids and then you can see whether it’s babysitting or not. That’s a really uneducated kind of view. We have an Australian curriculum we need to cover, we have increasingly the demands of society that schools teach table manners, sex education, morals, which is kind of taking away from the responsibility of families.
Teaching has become really multi-faceted. It’s way beyond the years of reading, writing and arithmetic. It’s the whole gamut of socialization. There’s huge pressure on schools to create citizens for the world, which is of course what we do, but with less and less support from home.
Does homework have value?
Homework that is carefully constructed is very worthwhile. The most worthwhile part about homework is building routines in kids. It’s about just having a daily routine, doing some reading, writing and maths, just to prepare them for high school and university where they have to have that organizational routine.
What can parents do to support literacy in the home?
Parents can model literacy and they can trick their kids into being literate. It’s about the mum or dad who says, “Grab a pen and paper and I’m going to stand here at the kitchen cupboard and you write down what we need for the shopping this week”. It’s that everyday literacy. So just building literacy into everything they do without making it a task.
“Eamonn has led our Junior School with vision and generosity. The task of a school leader is to ensure they leave a community in a better position than when they started. Eamonn has done this in spades. It has been a job Eamonn has loved. His legacy will live on here in all of us, and in all of the hundreds of boys who have grown into fine young men having passed through our Junior School gates during Eamonn’s time with us.
The fact that Marist is a school of first choice for so many Catholic families in Canberra is testimony to the quality of Eamonn’s leadership. Our College is widely known to be a vibrant faith community, characterised by strong relationships, innovative approaches with a rigours attitude to learning, and an ethic for work and participation that is the envy of many schools. All of these strengths have flourished under Eamonn’s careful guidance and inspiration, in collaboration with the talented and highly effective leadership team and staff.”
– Matthew Hutchison, Marist College Headmaster