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Redefining the Three Rs

THE THREE Rs principle has always annoyed me.

My first frustration behind this (now apparently dated) educational catchcry is somewhat obvious and perhaps unscholarly – only one of the Three Rs (reading, writing, and arithmetic) actually begins with an R.

At school I was always terrible at spelling. I loved writing, but often that involved staying back at lunchtime writing out the words I had got wrong on the spelling test.

I may be able to spell the word “necessary” now, but staying back while my friends were playing made me feel, well, stupid.

I know my teacher was doing her best, but the feeling that I wasn’t as smart as my friends seeped into other areas of my school work.

At nine years old I felt that I would always struggle through academic schooling. I didn’t fail subjects, or even get particularly bad marks, but I was the last one still writing out words at lunchtime, so I felt dumb.

It wasn’t until Year 7 and 8 when I had two teachers comment on my talents that I began to think that maybe I wasn’t so silly after all.

I remember a moment in Year 8 English when my teacher was handing back a piece of assessment.

He left me waiting until last and then made me stand up in front of the class before he gave me my mark.

I was terrified. What did I do wrong? Was it that bad? Was this teacher, who I respected so deeply, going to embarrass me in front of my whole class?

Mr Brazier stood in front of the class and announced to everyone that he was proud of how much I had improved.

He told the class that I had done a great job and he told me that I was smart. My grade was a B+ and by no means the best in the class.

When Bruce Brazier passed away, thousands of ex-students turned up to honour a truly great teacher.

My main frustration with the Three Rs principle is that it aimed at educating only a small part of a person.

It is teachers like Mr Brazier, who not only teach the curriculum, but actually educate and inspire genera-tions of students, who make a difference in the world.

To that extent, I suggest a new Three Rs: Relationships, real life experience, and positive reinforcement.

There you go, I couldn’t find three that started with R either.

P.S. Or perhaps we could go along with the new Three Rs from Moreton Bay Boys’ College: Research, relationships and reasoning.