On Saturday my parents and I attended the launch of a book entitled Pioneers and Suffragists. My great grandmother and various great great aunts were featured for their respective roles in signing and canvassing for signatures for the ‘monster petition‘. My family and I had never heard of this 1891 petition to give women in Victoria the vote, let alone the role our ancestors played (and what a crime that everybody I have mentioned this to had never heard of the monster petition either. Why don’t we study this in school, when Australian history is said to be ‘boring’?)
The stories of these women had been gathered over 4 years and the descendants of some of them gathered to celebrate the women and their role in bringing democracy to us, something that we take for granted today. Yet it was only just over 100 years ago that women were granted the vote in the state of Victoria.
The keynote speaker was Dr Richard Evans, whose speech was relevant to what we are trying to achieve in education today. Although he was talking about the petition itself and the 17 years it took from the time the petition was lodged until women were entitled to vote, many of the thoughts echoed the reform we are seeking in education.
- reform means we have to go forward. Reform cannot be backward looking
- we need communities to gather together to demand change. We can’t do it alone
- change means economic sacrifice
- change sometimes comes about for other reasons, but grab it anyway!
We are developing strong communities through #TMMELB, #plnaction and #vicpln in Victoria. We have a strong group of teachers who are collaborating on the response to the Victorian government’s New Directions paper. We are working towards real change and reform of learning. I just hope it doesn’t take another 17 years!