Monday, March 19, 2012

Yeah, why no shearers?

One of the benefits of having a depressive illness* is that you tend to spend a lot of time alone in your own mind.

During a recent 4 AM ramble through my sub-conscious I was struck like a bolt from the blue** by this revelation; none of The Boy's schoolwork involves shearers.

When I was his age, my school work was chock-a-block with shearers. Shearers' songs, shearers' strikes, shearers' stories. Why the Victorian education system was so fascinated by shearers in the late 1960s, I have no idea. Maybe it was somebody's idea to dress up Australian history so it wasn't so bloody dull, but to this day I continue to have a good working knowledge of the Australian shearing industry in the late nineteenth century.

True, this knowledge has never been called upon, but still it's early days.

* Try it coupled with chronic insomnia. It's ace!

** Or even like a bolt from Beyond Blue.***

*** I crack myself up.


squib said...

We did a lot on convicts. Then we ate burnt damper

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

We did a fair bit on bushrangers as well.

Bushrangers were ace!!

I originally wrote that as "bushrangas" - which raises all sorts of interesting mental pictures. said...

There were still shearers in the curriculum when I was at primary school in the late 70s/early 80s. 'Click go the shears boy,
click click click...'

Maybe removed or much downplayed because of the hurting animals (in the sense of sheep getting nicked while being shorn) controversy, the 'war' between the shearers using electric shears or the ones sticking to the non-electric traditional ones, workplace injuries suffered by shearers (lots of back problems, I understand), or perhaps the thought that Australia no longer relies on the sheep's back and therefore that aspect of history shouldn't be focused on?

Wait, was that a rhetorical question?

Kettle said...

Ramon there's nothing I like more than a touch of melancholy mixed with insomnia and shearers. We should start a club.

Kettle said...

MELBS! I read your story, we must talk!

Mr E said...

Maybe it isn't important to teach the next generations about Shearers.

In days of yore, mainly through the early incarnations of The Bulletin, the mainly urban population of Australian found a sense of "national identity" in the romanticised tales of life in the outback, and the reports of the Shearers Strike of 1890 and it's place at the foundation of the Labour Party. Banyo Paterson, Henry Lawson and all that. But maybe we don't need that anymore.

Maybe our national identity is now defined by something else, I have no midea exactly what that thing is, but it's not Shearers.

Melbourne Girl said...

Kettle sent you an email

Anonymous said...

I also learned a lot about shearers growing up. However, I don't remember much of it being part of my "formal" education. And very little of it was what I'd describe as "romantic".

I had a great auntie who was supposed to be one of the best shearers in Western NSW in the early 1900s. She married another gun shearer and the two became legendary for their competitiveness which often overflowed into violent altercations. One time she reportedly stabbed him in the arse with a set of mechanical shears. On another occasion, she snatched a billy can up off the fire and split his head open with it.

But on the subject of what they teach in schools these days; I just spent a weekend with around two dozen teachers talking endlessly about just how fucking ridiculous the curriculum and outcome expectations have become in QLD, and how much worse it's likely to get under the new LNP government. I'm sure most of them would like to go back to simply teaching kids about shearers, convicts and bushrangers.

Dr. Golf said...


Dr. Golf said...

Hi there, good to be back.

Pers congrats on the conception. Its funny because I also "snuck one past the keeper" over the new year period, whilst camping. Due in September.

look see said...

I don't remember being taught anything about shearers except for 'Click Go the Shears' when I was at school.

I don't teach kids about shearers.