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Teaching Heritage

Board of Studies NSW

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Bernie Howitt

Head Teacher HSIE, Narara Valley High School

I was watching a TV show, a Peter Luck one ‘This Fabulous Century’, and the first one on that was the Harbour Bridge and the story of the Harbour Bridge, and that immediately, to me, linked me in with my father who told me as a schoolboy [about] walking across [the bridge] just before it was opened, it linked me back to my grandfather who had, I’d found after he’d died in an old photo album photos, he was a sailor and he’d taken photos of the building of the Harbour Bridge when he sailed into Sydney Harbour in 1927. So that had given me a sense of a link across three generations….just watching that on TV. And the stories that my grandfather had told my mother and my mother had told me, the stories that my father had told me, gave me a sense of belonging, and having grown-up in Sydney that Bridge meant something to me. Now my students have bought me a ticket to go walking on it next week and so, I mean, that’s going to be my generation telling my kids about that sort of thing and that will, I presume, keep it alive for them, because they’ll say to their kids "oh yeah, your grandfather walked on that bridge", and then hopefully they’ll do the same thing, and you get that sense of stories being linked to physical heritage like the Harbour Bridge.
My father was also, as a trade union official, had been at the Paul Robeson concert at the Opera House, and so when they showed the Opera House after the Harbour Bridge [on the TV] I actually saw a photo of my dad standing next to Paul Robeson when they did that concert for the workers at the Opera House, and so again that gives me a sense of belonging to the Opera House.

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