Teacher David Cook finishes on Monday after chalking up a 40-year career at Kaikorai Valley College in Dunedin. Photo by Jane Dawber.
After 40 years of convincing Kaikorai Valley College pupils
of the worth of Shakespeare, a Dunedin teacher is retiring.
Head of English and media studies David Cook (63) began
teaching at the college in 1973, when he was aged 23. He
first taught at the Dunedin school when training as a teacher
in Christchurch, and loved the interaction with about 1200
co-educational pupils and the way head English teacher
Charles Croot allowed him to develop his own teaching style.
''He gave free reign, with parameters.''
The college was at the forefront of using new technology,
including video production and publishing, so after he was
qualified he took a sought-after teaching position.
During the 40 years, he had occasionally considered moving
on, but then the school would change, or he would be given a
different role, like in 1986, when he became a trade teacher
librarian and studied cutting-edge technology, like the
internet, for teaching pupils. That technology led to the
creation of online tutorials but when the position was
disestablished, he returned to teaching. He became head of
English and media studies in 2004.
Over the years, the language used by pupils had changed and
their range of vocabulary had become limited. Generally,
pupils were reading fewer books, but communication was always
evolving, he said.
''It is changing. If it didn't we would all be speaking
Chaucerian or Shakespearian.''
Some pupils loathed learning Shakespeare but many loved it,
Mr Cook said, and there was still much to learn from the
''If he was alive today, he would be making fantastic movies
about the human condition.''
During retirement, Mr Cook planned to renovate his house,
fish, read fiction, cook for his wife Genoveva and support
his 14-year-old son Christopher, who would be one of the
pupils in his final class on Monday.