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Faculty of Education and Arts - Student Speaker

Sunday, 23 January 2011, 6.00pm

Mr Matthew Shields

Pro-Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow Graduates and those, once again, morning the loss of the ashes!  It is with great honor that I am standing here to speak on behalf of the student body.

To start with I would like to share a quote from John Dewey “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” Therefore, fellow graduates, even as we are graduating today, it is not the end of something; it is a significant waypoint in our lives and the education that we have received in our lives to date, at school and at university, is merely a stepping stone to the education that we will continue to receive throughout our lives.

I would like to thank the administration and faculty of Education at Edith Cowan University for their hard work and dedication on our behalf.  I would also like to thank every one of you who has made this university what it is and every one of you who has supported me and my fellow students along the way.

On a personal note, I would like to share a story of a student who nearly slipped through the net. They constantly struggled at school, received poor grades and frequently got zero on spelling tests. They fell into a vicious cycle of getting behind with work and a drop in attendance.  However, one day a P.E. teacher picked up on the signs and made a connection with that student and had them tested for a learning disability.  From this point the student received the support that they needed and never looked back.  I would like to thank Mr Thornwell, without his intervention who knows which road my life would have taken. I just hope that some day I will be able to repay the favor and support students in need in the same way.

I think that you will agree that you have developed some good memories whilst studying at ECU.  Some of mine include, saving the life of a drowning student on an outdoor ed excursion - well at least I though they were drowning!  And the relief on student faces once they had made it through the rapids, despite going down backwards.  And who could forget Glyn’s vital role in the demonstration of the female reproductive organs within Health!  I’m sure Glyn will reenact the demonstration over a pint or two. However, it might be a cliché but above all these memories, are the ‘aha’ moments on prac, when a student discovers some thing new or finally understands a concept that you have been teaching them. They are etched into my memory and I hope that these are the start of many more to come in my teaching career.

Nonetheless, if the memoires you have now remain the best memories you have for the rest of your lives, shame on you!  I would not wish the memories of tests and endless assignments on my worst enemies. What I am trying to say is that these memories should form the foundation to hold all the great achievements and exciting memories you create from this day forward. So if, no when, we meet again we will be able to share a drink or two along with new and exciting stories of our journey through life.

The money we make or the accolades we receive will not measure to our contribution to the world as educators. And as Galileo said “You cannot teach people anything. You can only help them discover it within themselves.”

As Walt Disney said “All our dreams can come true...if we have the courage to pursue them.” So go forth class of 2010 and make your unique contribution!

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