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

Tony Hytch presents

Tony will present a session entitled  "Getting students assessment ready for Essential English" at Pimlico State High School, Townsville on Saturday 2nd May, 2020. Teachers will explore teh possible options for assessment in Units 1 and 2. In particular how to develop an assessment program which best prepares students for the t...

Category:   Seminar
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 2nd May 2020
Venue:   Pimlico High School
Email Enquiries:   adminofficer@etaq.org.au


May Masterclass 2020: Diving Deep into Feedback

This event will offer participants an opportunity to streamline their skills in assessment for learning, moderation and quality feedback processes at a series of workshops for teachers of years 7 -12 to be presented by colleagues and academics. We are investigating the possibility of running this event online on 16 May. Further details wi...

Category:   Master class
Start Time:   8:30 AM
Date:   Saturday 16th May 2020
Venue:   To be confirmed


2020 AATE/IFTE 'IF' Conference

2020 AATE/IFTE 'IF' Conference

The 2020 AATE / IFTE 'IF' Conference will be held in Sydney from 6 - 9 July 2020. The conference website is https://aateifte2020.org.au/ Promotional video can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdDJCQONsUQ&feature=youtu.be ...

Category:   National Conference
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Monday 6th July 2020
Venue:   Sydney Grammar School


JCU Spectacular

"Double, double toil and trouble": Creative Writing and Macbeth Professional Development Workshops
Dr Emma Maguire and Dr Claire Hansen

In this double workshop PD session, join Dr Emma Maguire for a one-hour workshop on creative writing, and Dr Claire Hansen for a one-hour session on teaching Macbeth. Discover the essential e...

Category:   Workshop
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 25th July 2020
Venue:   James Cook University
Email Enquiries:   adminofficer@etaq.org.au


Pre-conference Institute 2020: Diving Deep with Jeff Wilhelm

This event has been cancelled

Category:   Pre-conference Institute
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Monday 10th August 2020
  Repeating On specific dates
Venue:   Ipswich Girls Grammar School and Nudgee College


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