Teacher of the month
Dr Helen Gardner
Since taking up my appointment at Deakin in 2002 I have sought out opportunities to link my teaching and research. I recall the great pleasure I felt as an undergraduate when my lecturers were publishing academics. They seemed open to new possibilities and shared with students their questions as well as their doubts.
I believe that teaching to undergraduates pushes publishing academics to hone their communication skills and keep their writing pitched to the modern audience: educated and interested but busy and quickly turned off by writing that fails to engage. Teaching across generations can be illuminating as students make unexpected connections and challenge you to recognise what they find interesting and exciting.
I especially enjoy the chance to bring students into the strange historical and contemporary world of Pacific island colonies and nations. I specifically developed a unit on post-war Pacific Island History in order to gain a working knowledge of the literature of modern Pacific issues and to launch a new research project.
As Honours coordinator I worked on the development of the honours website for the Faculty of Arts and Education. In conjunction with my colleagues, I have developed four new units including a fully online unit. My new teaching interest is internships and employability for Arts graduates. As discipline coordinator of the history stream I welcome the chance to work with a strong, collegial and enthusiastic cohort of historians as we assure our students that there is a future in history.