Peter Botsman Award 2004

John Thomas

John is a teacher who is deeply committed to the teaching of the subject English, intellectually stimulating, always challenging us into thinking what English teaching was about. He is prepared to apply, and inspires his teachers to apply, cutting edge ideas about teaching topics/issues associated with the teaching of English in the classroom.

John is inspirational because of the breadth and depth of his knowledge of critical language theory and his dedication to implementing it in the classroom. Throughout the nineties, his intelligence, insights (and dry wit) lifted the quality of discussions at panel sessions and his contributions to Panel were appreciated and respected by his colleagues.

In 1991 members of English syllabus sub-committee were amazed at the insight and depth of the syllabus feedback submitted by John. Around that time he also meticulously developed and documented a unit of work on literature for Year 10 which represented a very early attempt to translate post-structuralist theory into practice. His work has found its way into Words’Worth and University courses.

One of us was lucky to teach with John Thomas at Woree State High in Cairns during the early to mid 1990s.

During this time he introduced me to Critical Literacy Theory – a person well ahead of his times. As a result of his leadership, a team of us began to apply the ideas associated with this theory in the classroom – no mean feat given it was a time when no support materials were in place for our use. Ne encouraged and supported wide reading, collegial support and risk taking. We were able to create and sustain a network that included visits from Wendy Morgan and Colin Lankshear. At seminars, we show cased with other teachers in the region, what we had developed.

We were also inspired by him to engage in advocacy, meeting with local politicians and advisers to the Minister of Education whenever an educational issue of concern arose.

His sense of social justice is noteworthy as well. He supported us in recognising the needs of troubled students, helping us cope with the stress of working with them with regular doses of his loony bird humour. He also motivated us to see that effective application of Critical Literacy provided an opportunity to giving voice to these students – an opportunity for them to make a new meaning out of school.

John has an insatiable appetite for all things English. This is no more evident than in his adoption of Hallidayan approaches and more recently those of Kress and van Leeuwin on visual literacy to the extent that he has introduced his son to Kress and van Leeuwin to help him at the College of Art.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of John’s approach to English teaching has been his capacity to absorb new ideas, come to terms with their complexity, and to exploit their worth. A consuming interest with language across the curriculum has been apparent in his involvement in language projects over the past 25 years beginning with LTLTR and continuing now with New Basics. In conclusion referees were unanimous in their support for John’s leadership and advocacy for English education, as one wrote:

We absolutely commend John as a nominee for a Botsman Award 2004. It couldn’t go to a more deserving person.

Upcoming Events

Literature Spectacular

Graham Joseph from Ryan Catholic College will present a workshop designed for teachers who are thinking about introducing Literature, delivering Literature for the first time or looking to review their Literature course in the near future. In the first part of the workshop, we will explore a framework for delivering a Literature course that c...

Category:   Workshop
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 13th February 2021
Venue:   ZOOM
Email Enquiries:   adminofficer@etaq.org.au


March Seminar 2021: Challenge and Change: Doing things differently

We are delighted to announce that we will be back with face to face professional learing events in 2021 - usual format but wtih some important changes: the March Seminar will be a full day event; the AATE-ALEA National Conference will be held in Brisbane in July and consequently there will not be a state conference. Other events for the year ...

Category:   Seminar
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 13th March 2021
Venue:   Iona College
Venue Address:   85 North Road, LINDUM
Phone Enquiries:   0455 464 000


Grammar at Hervey Bay

A grammar workshop will be held at Hervey Bay State High School to assist attendees to develop their understandings of grammar in order to fully comprehend and to effectively teach the Australia Curriculum: English (AC:E). Also highly relevant to Years 11 & 12. This will be an updated re-run of the activity conducted in both 2018 and ...

Category:   Workshop
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 27th March 2021
Venue:   Hervey Bay State High School
Venue Address:   56 Beach Road, Hervey Bay
Email Enquiries:   adminofficer@etaq.org.au


JCU Spectacular

Join Dr Claire Hansen for a two-hour session on teaching Macbeth. We'll dive into an exploration of the language of Macbeth and teaching strategies to engage students with Shakespeare's Scottish play.  The workshop will also explore learning activities for Macbeth created by the Shakespeare Reloaded project. This session will...

Category:   Seminar
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 22nd May 2021
Venue:   ZOOM
Email Enquiries:   adminofficer@etaq.org.au


Grammar Day

ETAQ will be conducting another of the very successful grammar days on Saturday 29 May 2021.  If your school would like to host this event, please contact Admin Officer.

Category:   Workshop
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 29th May 2021
Venue:   To be advised


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