Sometimes teachers deliver gold in their words and after being inspired by Professor Randy Pausch, I decided to talk to one of MCC's own 'goldmines'.
When famous American computer science Professor Randy Pausch was told that he had three more weeks to live, due to pancreatic cancer, he wanted to pack all the advice gathered throughout his life into an hour-long talk session and book.
This inspired me to approach MCC’s very own mathematics teacher Mr. Prestwidge for some insight into his life and so he could provide advice for our younger generation.
Although this isn’t his last lecture, his words of wisdom and life story will inspire some students.
Mr. Prestwidge has been teaching for 39 years and he does not plan to stop any time soon.
As a child he envisioned becoming a vetinarian and says the idea of becoming a mathematics teacher just randomly occurred to him one day when he was in year 10.
His mates made fun of him for it, so after finishing school he went on to study optometry, influenced by his mother’s dream, but found it boring, dropping out after one year.
Then he went back to his early aspirations to become a mathematics teacher and states he has never regretted the decision.
Interestingly, one of his childhood dreams was to retire at 50, and at 63, he chooses to continue working because he loves his job.
This decision shows the importance of doing something that you love as long as you can.
“A big part of me for teaching is inspiring people, and also understanding them,” Mr Prestwidge said.
A lot of students can agree that the interesting stories he tells us during class make his lessons more engaging and memorable.
Throughout his teaching career, he has taught incredible students such as a Year 11 student who achieved top seventh in year 12 Maths Methods in New South Wales.
When I asked him about the one thing that he would pass on to the younger generations, he firmly told me: “Your word’s your word, if your word is not your word, you’re not a man.”
Ever since he was young, he was always honest about things – in school, he wouldn’t lie about getting in trouble or talking, instead he would just plainly admit to everything.
From this he was able to establish a good rapport with his teachers, which he found to be an amazing privilege.
He has also faced the consequences of his actions from his honesty at times and considers this to be one great lesson in life.
Often finance is the main reason why people to lie. Mr Prestwidge recounts the time he returned $100 to a restaurant cashier who had given change incorrectly.
This shocked the cashier, and he enjoys moments like these, where his honesty changes people.
Truth is the number one thing that he challenges the young people that he teaches, and he values integrity in others.
Mr Prestwidge is an amazing teacher full of energy and charisma who has gone through a lot in his lifetime and will continue to teach until he cannot anymore.
I thought that he was so successful that there had to have been some magical method to get those high grades, and he told me to study past exam papers – not so magical.