Review by Bob Phillips

About Bob Phillips

Bob was a former General Manager of the Education Department and previously worked throughout Tasmania as a School Principal, School Superintendent and State Curriculum Manager. He has been involved in significant community partnerships at the Primary School level and in partnerships with the University of Tasmania addressing teacher training. He has a big picture perspective of international education and of systems theory with his PHD studies. Bob was a former Hardie Fellowship holder and is currently an education consultant.

Book Launch Review Speech by Bob Phillips

Transcript of Review Speech by Bob Phillips

I think it is a fascinating book in that it explores the history of Tasmania from its geological, geographical and biological history through to human occupation and history of ideas that have influenced our culture and community.

From that point of view it is a fascinating enterprise and a credit to Shannon how these themes are brought together.

For me it is the pleasure of engaging and re-engaging with ideas that cause me to think about things again. As I reflected on Shannon’s book I thought of T.S. Eliot’s Little Gidding prose, where he said,

“And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time”

And I really do think that that’s the nub of this book.

Shannon takes a whole host of ideas that we’ve all perhaps considered from time to time in different settings, but he holds them up to us and invites us to reconsider our position, and know our place for the first time. He holds up our past to us and lets us know Tasmania again, or at least in a new way.

It was an honour to read a draft of his book and be able to comment on it, and an honour to speak about the book at tonight’s launch. When I read the draft there were a couple of points that really hit me hard, and in terms of knowing this place again from a different perspective.

One of them was his chapter on ‘The War Against the Aboriginal People’ of our state. His account of the extent of the massacres was something that, while I knew of them, I didn’t know the extent.

One of the themes that comes through the book is that until we recognise and reconcile with our past, then we can’t move on. There are things that need to be addressed if we are to become the community that we wish to be. So he holds up our dark past to us, he says we need to acknowledge it and address it before we can reconcile.

He holds up a choice to us towards the end of the book, to say we can be a nation of ‘haves and have nots’, or we can be an ethical nation that wishes to be equitable and inclusive, to be connected. It is a point so worth making and so worth reflecting upon. Thank you Shannon for bringing it together in such a coherent way in the book.

Shannon, being Shannon, the last chapter is a celebration of life, with its title, “Have We Ever Really Surfed- or done anything?”

With all the interaction, with what makes us a community, what makes up our culture, he holds up our lives and says we can choose, we have choices about what we do.

We can chose to have a celebration of life, to be vibrant, to be excited, to be connected with our land. And this is a very “Yeeehaaaa” type of experience, we can connect to our community and culture in such a rich and deep way.

It has been such a pleasure in reviewing the book. I should finish with the ‘Little Gidding” piece. A little further on in the prose Eliot says,

“Not known, because not looked for 
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea”.

So we’ve got a place for reflection in the space between the waves where we really consider deeply some of that which is part of our life and experience. Congratulations Shannon.