playground duty

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.


-- Bruce Elder

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.