Dr Paul Brock died recently. We have lost a great man.
Many in public education have benefited from knowing Paul and having been touched by his energy, his mind, his principle and his commitment to truth and his insistence on the centrality of the highest values in our system of education.
Paul has been a leader, in the true sense of the word, for decades in Departmental and academic circles. He has led thought and policy development from his senior positions in the Departmental and intellectual realms.
Whilst fads and enthusiasms, false messiahs and charlatans have abounded in educational domains in the recent past Paul stood as a champion for what was right and what was true. From his position as Director of Learning and Development Research at the Department and as Adjunct Professor at the University of Sydney Paul was a tireless champion of public education and a relentless disseminator of the best ideas and research amongst principals and teachers across the state.
His career spanned almost half a century, during which time his areas of interest were vast and ever-expanding. He had been a teacher, a deputy principal, an educator and academic across three continents and a senior policy advisor to governments at the state and federal levels.
Such distinctions might have crowded out other human capacities and opportunities over such a professional lifetime yet Paul was always, and to his core, a loving man who gained deep sustenance by immersing himself in the love that surrounded him.
The last period of his life was gravely marked by motor neurone disease which might well have slowed a lesser mortal yet much of his greatest professional and intellectual triumph was achieved in those years when Paul was becoming confined to his sedentary existence and medical contraption.
Paul insisted that as public educators we have a duty to aspire to the highest possible levels of performance — for the children in our care and for the dignity of our profession. He gloried in the power of language and the profound human possibilities that it affords us all. Paul was of the view that all children, as a basic human right, must have the opportunity to develop their intellectual selves to the fullest. And we, as their teachers, are that opportunity.
Paul was a true friend to teachers and to the Teachers Federation. Paul had been kind enough over the last year to make two major contributions to our Journal of Professional Learning, JPL. In 2015, he contributed to the Centre for Professional Learning’s video on “Introducing Shakespeare to the Classroom” and he also wrote a major, original work for JPL entitled “A Message to the Profession” which is a synthesis of his research, reflections, ideas and passions in education. It is a hugely significant piece that any and every teacher might benefit from.
As his life and his works attest, Paul Brock was in fact something more important than a great man. He was a good man.