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

May Masterclass 2021

THE CHALLENGE OF TEACHING ANALYSIS: DO WE NEED TO CHANGE OUR PRACTICES? Teaching the process of analysing texts in order for students to produce a spoken or written response remains amongst the most exciting and difficult challenges we face as a community of English teachers. Most recently, the high-stakes nature of unseen examinations fo...

Category:   Master class
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 15th May 2021
Venue:   University of Queensland (tbc)
Phone Enquiries:   0455464000
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

A grammar workshop will be held at Elanora State High School  on Saturday 29 May 2021 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 ...

Category:   Workshop
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 29th May 2021
Venue:   Elanora State High School
Email Enquiries:   adminofficer@etaq.org.au


Teacher event - external assessment

The second series of pre-external examination events will be held for teachers on Saturday 31 July as a face-to-face event and online. Recorded materials will remain available to all participants online until the examination week in October. Date Claimer giving further information is available for download ...

Category:   Seminar
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 31st July 2021
Venue:   TBC
Phone Enquiries:   0455464000


Student event - external assessment

Flexible modes  of delivery will allow you and your students to engage with the materials at a time that suits you.  Once again this event will be fully online to cater for all members and their students. This year the materials will come to you live in the afternoon of  Wednesday 8 September and again in the morning of Saturda...

Category:   Student (and teacher) Event
Start Time:   3:00 PM
Date:   Wednesday 8th September 2021
  Repeating On specific dates
Venue:   Online
Email Enquiries:   adminofficer@etaq.org.au


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