Over the last few days, I have received a minor avalanche of queries about some remarks I made to students at Melbourne's exclusive boys school Scotch College in 2001. For some reason, there has been a sudden upsurge of interest in this speech and a copy is circulating widely. Even the media has taken an interest and quite a few people have contacted me seeking confirmation of my authorship. What I can confirm is this - In August 2001 I accepted a professional engagement to speak to a group of about 250 Year 11 students as part of a week of literary activities and author workshops at Scotch College. At the conclusion of my session, I presented the students with a view of their institution which they were unlikely to have heard either from their teachers, their peers or their parents. The words I used were not minced. I sent a copy to some friends who are active in public education with no immediate plans to disseminate it any further. The version which I have been recently sent for verification is the one I wrote. Other versions may exist but if so I haven't seen them. I do not know who wrote the introductory remarks setting the context - they are mostly accurate. My only reservations concern my description as an 'outspoken public education activist'. I am certainly a supporter of public education, but to describe me as an activist is to overstate my role. It is also a disservice to the many true activists who volunteer a huge amount of their time, skills and energy to defending our schools and promoting the benefits to our children of an adequately resourced, free, universal and secular public education system.
Given the sudden net-flurry of interest, I was asked to write an opinion piece for the Age newspaper. It can be found here.