Last night I hosted and spoke at an evening organised by the Uniting Church Historical Society, South Australia and hosted by Uniting College where I teach. It was part of a project of theirs to document the history of lay education in this state.
A small gathering attended by about 15 people, half of whom were speakers or organisers, and almost all retired folks (yes, Deidre Palmer and I felt quite spritely).
Despite the fact that I thought it might be deadly dull, I was quite pleased to be asked to be part of it. Our time in SA in the mid-80's was profoundly important for me, and lay education was entering a new and important phase then. I've been well aware of developments here in the ensuing years, and of course, quite involved since moving back here in 2003, and it was my main focus at the College from 2005-2010.
Though there was a lot of history, the evening was anything but dreary for me. I was able to hear from (and reconnect with) some of the legends of the past. David Houston's history of lay education since the late 1800's was really a dot point summary, but I was struck again and again by how my great grandparents' generation had been pioneers. We are SUCH a young country (in terms of European settlement!) and in that sense have barely put down roots. I kept hearing South Australian surnames whose descendents are my peers our our students. And although I spent the first 20 years of my life in Queensland, the stories from that era had direct parallels with my own.