In the baking heat of February 1973, wearing a purple body shirt and an expression of confidence that belied his nerves, Ned Manning faced a classroom of children in remote New South Wales.
It was the start of many years of teaching that would be by turns exhilarating, nerve-fraying, and inspiring. Packed with stories of students both recalcitrant and driven, lesson plans, staff rooms, and drama, this book roams from high schools in dusty country towns to the edgy Newtown High School of the Performing Arts in Sydney’s inner city and a crucible of creativity at the Eora Aboriginal Education Center.
Through the challenges he inevitably faces, Manning finds the common thread of possibility and hope that runs through his profession. A funny and disarmingly honest memoir of a full life of teaching, this account has the power to rekindle a spark of glee and optimism about teachers, kids, and even schools.
Review – Sydney Morning Herald
How do you define a good teacher? You won't find the answer on a mark sheet, or in a league table, or on a roll of honour," writes Ned Manning, a drama teacher at the Newtown High School of the Performing Arts. This is his honest and insightful account of the ordinary life of an ordinary teacher. It is the story of the challenges and rewards of a committed teacher. It is also an excellent account of teaching in NSW in the past 40 years. As retirement looms, there will be lots of schoolteacher reminiscences. This sets a high benchmark.
Sydney Morning Herald
Review – NSW Teacher's Federation Journal
Playground Duty is imbued with an inherent understanding of the human, organic nature of teaching… The message that threads through it is not startling but it needs to be heard more often; overwhelmingly, teachers want the best for their students. Why on earth would we encourage disengagement and failure? …Ned’s voice is warm with enthusiasm and Playground Duty argues strongly for the integrity of our profession, manifest in the infinitely played out interaction between teacher and student. It’s an endlessly varied drama and if anyone thinks that the roles can be standardised, they don’t understand teaching.
Debra Barford, Canterbury Girls High School
Review – UKEd Magazine
Review – Monash University
“Playground Duty deserves to be on the compulsory reading list in every teacher education course in Australia.”