I teach in St Albans in the western suburbs of Melbourne, in the government school where I was once a student some 20-odd years ago. Every year I take my grade sevens to a school-owned camping ground two hours outside the city. For most of my students, who, like I was, are the children and grandchildren of migrants, going to the country is a novel experience. This camp is an opportunity to expose them to the countryside, to the animals that reside there, to activities such as archery, swimming, nature walking and sheep shearing, and to a world they know little about in rural Australia.
One of our activities is to attend the swimming pool set on the banks of the picturesque river that divides the town of Benalla, providing a beautiful backdrop for my students to enjoy the water. In my first year of teaching I decided not to join them and instead sat on the concrete benches by the pool. I was nervous and constantly on guard about potential hazards. Three students hadn’t learned to swim, so I kept getting up to walk down the side of the pool to usher them away from the deep end.
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