Senior teacher John Ryan sent this comment:
The day after he visited we debriefed on Bob’s talk to year 11 students. Everyone found the talk compelling for a number of reasons but chief of them was the very real interest Bob showed in their own lives. Bob was impressed when he learned how many students were involved in some form of community service or another: playing music in retirement villages, volunteering in the Rural Fire Fighting service, Girl Guide leaders, award winning public speakers were just some examples in a room where easily two thirds do community work.
I invited Bob to visit because I knew he could speak about the connections between literature and history from a highly informed position and with real passion for his subject. But while he was doing just that; explaining how literature could allow us windows into the past to better understand what happened and who was involved, students noted and were impressed as Bob delivered positive and empowering messages about the value of self education, indeed of education. He spoke of his own humbling realization that he needed to get behind the brick and mortar to find out the stories that went into creating Ancient Rome. He also explained why we had to keep our own consul, weigh up evidence when reading say, Richard III, which, as he pointed out, skewed the character of Richard so Shakespeare would not fall out with Elizabeth I, a monarch whose family had defeated Richard’s to claim the throne. Bob talked about his own life too… hardly surprising students felt less jaded about political careers after meeting him.