Past Staff – Where are they Now? Jenny McArthur

I was Head of History at Tintern for 18 years from 1995 to 2012. I also returned for short replacement teaching stints in 2014, 2017 and 2019. During my time at Tintern I taught History to all year levels as well as IB Theory of Knowledge, and English to Years 9 and 10. I really enjoyed my time at Tintern. I found the interaction with students interesting, stimulating, challenging and rewarding and I was fortunate to work with wonderful, supportive colleagues.

In 1995 I had two Year 7 classes for History and much to my delight quite a number of these girls were in my 2000 IB History and VCE Revolutions classes. In both 2010 and 2015 I was unable to come to the 2000 reunion due to being overseas and illness respectively. It is a such pity that we missed out again last year. I remember my VCE Revolutions classes in 1995, 1996 and 2001 very well too. Everyone was really engaged in the discussions and presentations and so many of them achieved excellent results.

When I arrived at Tintern, the History Department consisted of a vibrant group of teachers and this continued throughout my time there. They were so creative and inspired students to love History. I think the heyday was when we had two VCE Renaissance Italy classes, one VCE Revolutions class, one VCE Australian History class and one large IB History class in Year 12! The Department was instrumental in putting on elaborate events, performances and displays for various Open Days, particularly for Australia Remembers in 2000. Also, in the early 2000s a number of teachers entered their classes into National History Challenge and in 2000 and 2001 Tintern students won the State Prize for one of the categories. Other students reached the finals for this competition and also for the Simpson Prize. All the classes experienced excursions every year to various museums and exhibitions. Those of us who taught Year 10 went to the Holocaust Museum every year and sometimes twice in a year. No matter how often we went it was still a harrowing experience for both staff and students.

I have a passion for all aspects of History and I hope I conveyed this to my students. I enjoyed the discussions, the presentations, the performances and helping students to make links between the past and the present. I was always so thrilled when students who had been in my classes lower down in the school choose either IB or VCE History. I loved my senior classes because everyone was really engaged in what we studied, whether it was the French or Russian or Chinese Revolutions or the Cold War or Decolonisation or the history of China and Japan from imperial times. Most students worked so hard and were high achievers.

I was involved in teaching IB Theory of Knowledge and worked with a strong team of colleagues. I remember quite a number of demanding TOK camps at Candlebark Farm. The intellectual engagement of the students was wonderful even if they didn’t quite get what TOK was all about when they were just a few days into Year 11, but by Year 12 they were involved fully. Also, the flying fox and the ropes course were exciting challenges, particularly for me! It was wonderful to see students grow intellectually and during Year 12 the IB students were able to come to grips with the nature of knowledge and how we know what we know and deliver insightful presentations and essays.

I enjoyed teaching Year 10 English in 2002 and the same Year 9 class for English and History in 2004. I remember the students performing parts of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in English and also recreating a 1960s style protest in History.

I was a Debating coach and then Co-ordinator of Debating for 16 years and I was supported by a dedicated team of fellow coaches. Tintern became a Debating Association of Victoria host school so there was always a hive of activity on debating nights, which included take away pizza for some teams preparing at the last minute! As well, we had internal beginning of the year debates, debating dinners at the end of the year and often a minibus load of debaters would go to support those teams which had reached the finals. Each year we always had several teams across all the grades in the finals. In 1997, a B Grade team won the state Grand Final; the same team was runner up in the A Grade Grand Final in 1998 and in 2000 another B Grade team was runner up. We also had many students recognized for being best speakers for the year in their grades in the DAV Schools Competition and winning state and regional Swannie Awards.



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