Joe Bennett back on College campus

09 Apr 2018

Renowned author and columnist Joe Bennett is back at the chalkface teaching English at College as official writer-in-residence.

“I was quite nervous walking in the gates again, but it didn’t take long to realise that the kids are unchanged. They’re still the same as they always were.”

Joe taught English and PE at College from 1987–97 and ran School House for three years.

Since then he has carved a career from writing – more than 20 books including seven published in the United Kingdom, and most memorably for many New Zealanders, a weekly newspaper column which chastises, applauds, cajoles and comments on a myriad of topics, both local and international.

So what is different in today’s classrooms at College?

“The most obvious thing was that the staff has completely changed, and the boys are completely unchanged. I always loved teaching – it was the other stuff I didn’t enjoy so much – and it’s very gratifying to still hear from plenty of kids that I taught. One rang up recently to say he was back in Christchurch from London and wanted to say he’d enjoyed my classes and wanted to catch up.”

Joe will be going into classes whenever he is invited.

“I will enjoy teaching classes and hope the kids will get pleasure out of that.”

He will also be available over the next 10 weeks of his residency for one-to-one work with any students who aspire to write.

“I’d very much like to find a couple of kids to mentor. But there’s a huge trust thing going on about that, so I hope they can get to know me a bit and feel able to share their work.”

Joe is finding the digital hi-tech blackboards both a worthwhile advance and a bit of a challenge, and confesses he is still unashamedly partial to chalk.

“Chalk IS teaching, and whiteboards I hated from day one. They’re a waste of resources, the pens are expensive and run out, they dry out if you leave the tops off. Now chalk, it never runs out, you can throw it at children, it’s always the same colour, and it makes a satisfying cloud when you clean it off.”

Joe Bennett