Late last year, while Macquarie University students were busy with exams, Professor John Croucher was being crowned Australian University Teacher of 2013.
“It’s like Miss Australia… I have this title forever but in 12 months time there will be a new King (or Queen), and I will have to hand the reins over.”
The award, valued at $50,000, recognises the Professor’s superior teaching and communication skills, and a long history of research. “I love teaching, and I love the students. It’s nice to be recognised and to see that it’s appreciated.” But Croucher admits, being a good teacher is about more than just knowing the course material. “You can’t just go and read the text book and say, “We’re on page four, we’re going to talk about multiple integrals. If no one sees the use for the thing you’re teaching them, then it won’t be interesting.”
Leaving school at the age of 16, John Croucher came from a working-class background, taking on a clerical job for three years to save money for university. After overcoming a hereditary stammer and a fear of public speaking, he went on to pursue a life of academia. His career took him all over the world and even, for a brief period of time, onto our television screens as Channel Ten’s “Mr FootyTAB.” Eventually, however, he ended right back where he started, at Macquarie University.
Education is Croucher’s passion. He believes that institutions should be encouraging the best teachers, which means rewarding good teachers for their hard work. Unfortunately, people often confuse a good teacher with a popular teacher.
“Popular being ‘no homework, easy exam.’ But somebody that gives you lots of hard homework and keeps you on your toes is probably who you’re going to learn most from.”
John Croucher is confident Macquarie University students know the difference.