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KEARY, Michael

KEARY, Michael

The widely respected Michael Keary taught Latin, Classical Studies, and Biblical Studies at Geelong College from 1962 to 1996. The School magazine Pegasus published this portrait of him in 1996:

Michael Keary, 1996. (TGC)

Michael Keary, 1996. (TGC)

'Michael Keary's professional life at The Geelong College, like those of Bert Keith and Ewen McLean, has formed one of those long threads through time of which any institution can be proud. A new graduate, he arrived in 1962 to teach Latin and 'some other literary subject': a requirement satisfied variously by English, History, Religious Education and Classical Civilization. In some years he also taught Ancient Greek in his own free time.

Few have taught a pupil who later returned as Principal. Paul Sheahan recalls that Michael's arrival at College provided an intellectual challenge for many of the boys, and that he was responsible for putting Latin 'on the map' at a time when its future was under severe scrutiny. Michael's success as a teacher of Latin was legendary. His high standards, and those of his students, are well reflected by the apology he received one year from a student who 'only scored 91%', thereby reducing the class average. His depth of learning has also made him a point of reference for colleagues, who value his scholarship and wisdom, spiced disarmingly with a sense of humour which relishes irony but never needs to hurt.

Michael's good-natured conservatism and 'unforced affection for traditional procedures in preference to the vulgarities of progress' have, as for Thomas Mann's Felix Krull, served him well in the inevitable encounters with modern technology such as computer breakdown: 'You don't get these problems with clay tablets.'

Michael has been master-in-charge of tennis for thirty years, coaching almost all teams at one time or another, in both the APS and the Churches' competitions. He has been a Tutor in McArthur House for as long as the writer can remember and has even presided over the occasional tutorial outing or pizza party - though more to his liking, one suspects, were the annual Feasts held with the students of Latin. He has also found opportunities to share with students his love and understanding of horses by taking horse riding trips in the nearby Otway Ranges.

Apart from a short stint in England, Michael has taught for all of his, career at The Geelong College. Soon after his appointment he took study leave to complete an M.A., and - more recently - to make short visits to Italy, Greece and Jerusalem, always with a study component. Notwithstanding his well-known aversion for meetings, he has been active, in the administration and examination of Latin and Greek in Victoria.

Few teachers have been so liked and so respected, not only by colleagues, but also by students and their parents, many of whom have sought Michael as teacher for their child almost irrespective of the subject being taught, just to have the benefit of his influence. He imparted knowledge and understanding but, above all, a love of all that is best in a classical education. He was respected by his students because he was impartial, fair and just and because - as with his colleagues -his sense of humour was never far away. How could a student fail to accept punishment for 'de-fenestrating' his record book?

Latin and tennis may continue, but Michael Keary himself is quite irreplaceable. The writer hopes that these lines will express the collected thanks of the College community, past and present, as we wish him well in retirement. Perhaps Agamemnon, in a speech to Clytaemnestra, might be allowed the final word:'


Sources: Pegasus 1996 p154;
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