Farewell Mr Phil Knox

CCGS staff Phil Knox

You’ve been at CCGS since 1995, in your opinion what has changed the most in teaching and what remains the same?

When you have been teaching for 45 years the most obvious answer to this question is technology. The arrival of the computer and internet into the classroom in 1997 began a paradigm shift in the way students were engaged and taught. Here was a ‘new world’ that was exciting and daunting at the same time. Maintaining a learning curve that was one step in front of the students was often difficult, so common ground was reached as they became your teacher. Today, technology is second nature to classroom delivery and the COVID-19 experience has shown just how far the profession has come since those early days.

I have been fortunate to spend my career teaching in Public and Independent Schools. Considering both environments, the constant that hasn’t changed is, that whatever their socioeconomic status, ‘kids are kids’. Adolescents are the most exciting, sometimes bewildering, creatures on this planet, and it has been a joy and an honour to engage with them as an educator and House Coordinator as they navigate their way through school life.

What has been the highlight of your CCGS days?

There have been so many highlights, including the dedicated professionals I have worked with, the fantastic students, coaching and managing various rugby and cricket teams, backstage production life and the many sporting, cultural and science tours. Each of these have added to the rich tapestry that has been my fortunate life at CCGS.

Teacher Phil Knox with students doing a science experiment

What’s one lesson you’ve learned from your students?

There are so many student lessons that have osmotically become part of my teaching habits. Many years ago, I realised that some of the best lessons were when we left the classroom, leaving the formal lesson plan at the door. Letting the students take the lead resulted in a collaborative learning experience that was of mutual benefit.

What do you think are the most important skills students learn from School today and why?

Students are generally inquisitive, social beings who continually question and test boundaries. To successfully navigate these natural characteristics, they must develop the social skills that allow them to work collaboratively and happily with others. They also need to become critical thinkers who question and seek evidence-based truths. This is especially relevant in this current climate where social, visual and print media are full of misinformation that denigrates the supporting scientific evidence. Science has provided society with so many medical and technological advancements, yet so many doubt the overwhelming evidence supporting the science of climate change and vaccines.

What advice do you have for new teachers?

You have fortunately chosen a wonderful career that will provide you with so many intrinsic rewards. A class of students is a sea of unlimited possibilities. Tap into that resource and develop honest, authentic relationships with each student. Engage with positive mentors to help guide you through those early years, which can be so daunting. Once you are confident with your classroom management don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and continually challenge your innate strengths. I leave you with this quote from my favourite physics mentor, Albert Einstein, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge’.

Teacher Phil Knox with his House Family

What will you miss most about CCGS?

The daily engagement with staff and students. Fortunately, I will be returning in a casual capacity in the future. One thing the COVID-19 online experience has revealed is that I’m not quite ready to give up the dynamics and excitement of the classroom at this stage.

What does the ‘next chapter’ hold for you?

Other than the occasional casual day, there are many old and new roads to be travelled and plenty of home projects to complete. Hopefully, it will also be a time of continued personal growth.

Ahead of Mr Knox's retirement, students (including his own son) performed a musical tribute at the CCGS Year 12 Leaver's Service.