Marc Serge Rivière (Mauritius) - Monash University
Course completed in Australia: Graduate Diploma of Education
Institution: Monash University
Current position: Registrar of Institut Cardinal Jean Margéot, Mauritius, and Emeritus Professor of French, University of Limerick, Ireland
Serge Rivière had a Masters and a PhD in hand when he decided to do a Diploma of Education at Monash University, a move he describes as a career shaping one which enabled him to become “a real professional teacher”.
“I had taught French and English before,” he says, “but I didn’t realise how important it was to plan lessons, to teach in a new and exciting way.
“I learned how to make classes enjoyable and I became a far, far better teacher in the classroom.”
Rivière puts the change in his style down to the instruction he received at Monash, in particular to a couple of tutors who were working teachers.
“They were practising professionals,” he explains, “teaching strategies and methods, how to survive. There was nothing airy-fairy about it.
“As part of the diploma I did educational psychology, French language teaching and English language teaching.
“It was very solid, very strong academically but with a great deal of practical support.”
He describes the mix of theory and hands-on experience as “a great, great bonus”.
“Universities in Australia are so forward looking while being grounded in solid knowledge,” he says. “There’s a better link between teaching and research.
“What I like is that it gives you a chance to practise learning to be a complete human being.”
When he landed his first job out of Monash, teaching beginner’s French at James Cook University (JCU), Rivière was told that the panel had selected him on the strength of his diploma, not his PhD, because they wanted a “qualified teacher” as opposed to an academic.
Rivière was later appointed an Associate Professor at JCU where he says he drew heavily on his Monash experience.
“It transformed my teaching,” he laughs.
“Being a good teacher shaped my career. I learnt to hold students’ interest. I became a better communicator.”
Rivière, who has taught in both schools and universities and been nominated for awards, went on to become a university Dean and was later appointed Chair in French at Limerick University in Ireland.
Thirty years later he claims he’s still using the skills he learnt as a student teacher at Monash.
His ability to take on new challenges, in new places, is due in many ways, he believes, to his Australian experience.
“People with an Australian education know how to adapt to different jobs.”
Mauritian-born Rivière has lived in Scotland, Canada and Ireland but says Australia feels like his second home.
“It’s very pleasant ‒ the climate, the food, but it’s got a multicultural aspect that I have never found anywhere else,” he says. “There are just so many communities. It’s enriching.”
And he likes that Australians have “learnt to be themselves”.
“It’s in their nature to be a lot less formal, more direct”, he says, “I like that you can talk to your neighbours over the fence. I like the openness of people.”
While Australia’s scale might be daunting to some, Rivière finds it a positive.
“I enjoy the vastness, the healthy outdoor living, the ocean, the nature,” he says.
“There are wonderful cities in Europe but you don’t have the impression of being in a vast landscape.
“I think you can feel much more lost in Europe.”
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