Head of Religious Education, Dr Revd Duncan Reid always finds a way to turn everything he does into a learning experience. When called a lifelong learner, Duncan smiles, “it’s self-indulgence really!” – the healthy type of self-indulgence we’d say!
Through his love for learning, Duncan is a wealth of knowledge and expertise. As well as being a priest of the Anglican Church, Duncan also has a Doctorate in Theology Studies. He speaks German fluently and can read Russian, “I’d need to be in a place where Russian is spoken to get into the habit of speaking it again.” While doing his Theology degree in Germany, Duncan had to pass the Year 12 equivalent exams in Latin, Classical Greek and Biblical Hebrew, which he then had to translate into German. “They’re all a bit rusty now.” Duncan says humbly.
Duncan has been at CGGS since 2006, and 14 years later he still finds joy every day in what he does. “I love the moments of pure electricity when a student understands something new,” he says. During his time at CGGS, Duncan has taught Religious Education, History and English, all subjects he says create fantastic conversation, “They all have the ability to raise interesting questions at times, and provoke classroom discussions that can be more important than the actual content of the subjects.”
Aside from teaching at CGGS, Duncan is also an adjunct lecturer in Theology at Trinity College and is currently co-supervising a doctoral student, having already supervised two others who graduated earlier this year. Duncan loves this work, “They are in the process of making themselves world-class experts in their own topics and they always teach me more than I know already. I only ever take on a student who is keen to explore what I think is an interesting topic; something I want to know more about, and I always learn a great deal.”
Duncan initiated one of CGGS’ longest standing service learning partnerships with The River Nile Learning Centre (RNLC). RNLC’s programs aim to develop essential English language, literacy, numeracy, life and work skills for young refugee and asylum seeker women. Duncan was contacted in 2008 by one of the founders of RNLC, Rev Don Edgar – the vicar of St John’s Footscray, as they had a need for some child-minding for the babies and toddlers of the Sudanese women at the Centre while they were learning English. Duncan approached CGGS as to whether that was something Year 9 students could help with, and the rest is history. Duncan has fond memories of this time, “The first to volunteer were Anna Davies and Ashleigh Abadia – they loved their visit in early 2008 and talked about it back at school, and each year since then we’ve had an abundance of volunteers. We also help with food distribution as this is now a greater need than childcare,” he explains.
The local community is really important to Duncan; he often leads Sunday services when there are vacancies in local Anglican parishes and has also been part of an interfaith network at his local municipal council area. When asked why he thinks it’s important to get so involved, Duncan passionately explains “Our society tends to encourage competition rather than cooperation, and many people feel isolated and alone. Building strong, inclusive and collaborative communities is really important, and that can happen in all sorts of ways.”
After going to multiple folk music festivals with friends, six years ago Duncan decided he wanted to learn to play the fiddle. He’s a dedicated student who has weekly lessons and endeavours to practise every day. Duncan loves folk music so much that he managed to convince Rohan Mack (CGGS’ Director of Music – Instrumental), to form an Irish Band at the school. “It’s great fun – but the girls are much quicker to pick up new tunes than I am. I just try to keep up with them. They’re very good humoured about it,” Duncan explains with a laugh.
In 2020, while most of us were baking bread and working on puzzles, Duncan has managed to write and publish a book! ‘Time We Started Listening’ is a theological response to recent Indigenous writing, an exploration of what we need to learn about country from Indigenous culture. “Over the lockdown this year, I found myself reading a whole lot of Indigenous writing which made me think, we non-Indigenous Australians haven’t really started listening yet to Indigenous people. There’s stuff that we really need to hear and we need to start listening now.” Is there anything Duncan has not done or could not conquer?
At CGGS, we encourage a love for learning, we want our students to be lifelong learners. How fitting that we have educators like Duncan, constantly seeking new learning opportunities and experiences to better himself, and to benefit the people around him.