Mr Griffith H. Duncan 1914-1988 Hall of Fame

Mr Griffith Duncan O.B.E., M.A., B.Ed., F.A.C.E. (1914-1988)

“I suppose what I have tried to do,
if I could put it in a nutshell,
is to try to teach my students,
if I could,
that real courtesy is based on consideration of another person’s feelings.
The real thing is to try to help them to understand and be patient,
to try to get the other persons point of view grasped.
Because it is not what a person sees happening that counts,
it is what he BELIEVES he sees happening,
and it is the way he Interprets what is happening.”
– Griffith Duncan (c.1973)

The foundation Principal of the Newcastle Teachers’ College, later incorporated as the Newcastle College of Advanced Education, the late Mr Griffith Duncan was one of 10 new inductees to the Cessnock Hall of the Fame on the 19 September 2007. Congratulations!

Griffith Hammond Duncan, O.B.E., M.A., B.Ed., F.A.C.E. was born in Kurri Kurri in 1914 – half Welsh, half Scottish.

His early education was at Kurri, his secondary was at East Maitland Boys’ High School and tertiary at the University of Sydney where he pursued his love of English and his bent for Mathematics and Science.

Griff completed his professional training year at Sydney Teachers’ College and was eventually appointed in 1935 to the N.S.W. Teaching Service at Newcastle Junior High School.

In 1940 he was triumphantly awarded his Master of Arts degree in mathematics, with First Class Honours, and the University Medal.

Griff had just been “run in” into teaching when, also in 1940, he joined the R.A.A.F. and remained there for five and a half years.

After discharge, he returned to teaching at Sydney Technical High School. Thence he was appointed to Balmain Teachers’ College as a Lecturer in Mathematics, and part-time at the University of Sydney, before going to Wagga Teachers’ College as Vice-Principal for two years.

MR G. H. Duncan Addressing the first assembly Tuesday 1st March 1949

Mr G.H. Duncan addressing the first assembly, 1 March 1949.

Mr G.H. Duncan with staff, 1949.

Then a State decision was made to open a Teachers’ College in Newcastle. Griff says he “was fortunate to get the job”. In 1949, he opened Newcastle Teachers’ College in the Manual Arts Room of what was to be part of Newcastle Technical High School, with 13 staff and 182 students. He retired in 1975 after watching its development from Teachers’ College to Newcastle College of Advanced Education to Hunter Institute of Higher Education.

Mr Griffith Duncan at the Conferring of Honorary Award and Official Farewell 26th March 1975

Mr Griffith Duncan at the Conferring of Honorary Award and Official Farewell 26th March 1975

(Exerpts from “Griffith Hammond Duncan Memorial Service 19th April, 1988 Eulogy delivered by Mr Phil Marquet”.)

For more on Mr Griffith Duncan:

Click for the Full “Interview with Griff” by Dale Brown Editor, Altjiringa Magazine (c.1973)

“Speaking of Union Street…” Reminiscences of Newcastle Teachers’ College 1949-1973

Huldah Turner’s Address’ from Huldah Turner to Dr Douglas Huxley. 4th March 1992 Reminiscences of Newcastle Teachers’ College. Click here for the Original Recording [2.20 MB mp3 file]

Newcastle Teachers College – Pioneer Session 1949-1950 Website

Sneddon, Briony. ““Respected Educator Inducted into Hall of Fame” Maitland Mercury, 30 November 2007 p.4

Griffith Duncan

4 thoughts on “Mr Griffith H. Duncan 1914-1988 Hall of Fame

  1. My name is Stan Franklin, today I attended an eisteddfod with my daughters, who have a Dance school in Sydneyin the Griffith Duncan Theatre. Seeing Griff’s name brought back many memories, so i googled Griff and found this site.
    I was a student/graduate of the Newcastle teachers college in the early 70’s. All of my fellow students at the time had the highest respect and esteem for Mr Duncan. He was a very friendly and approachable gentleman, he could often be seen in the grounds and was always more than happy to chat or give advise.
    I went on to teach for some 30 years and would not have been able to complete my studies and graduate without Mr Duncan’s personal intervention, assistence and guidance.
    I have only the fondest memories this true gentleman.
    Stan Franklin.

  2. Grif Duncan gave me the best break of my young life in 1960, when he informed the NSW Education Dept that I could write clearly with my right hand and recommended I be awarded a Manual Arts teacher training scholarship. In all, I taught for almost 36 years on three continents, thanks to Grif.

  3. Pingback: Donation Honours Memory of Griffith Duncan | Cultural Collections, UON Library

  4. I graduated from Newcastle Teachers’ College in 1961. I well remember that part of our final assemble (outdoors) when Grif shocked us. He said in words to the effect that there we were feeling grateful to our parents, but we should not be so grateful. It was our parents’ duty to see us educated. Hadn’t thought of it that way. I also remember as a student of Newcastle Boys’ High at an assembly where Grif was the guest speaker. He and the then deputy principal wallowed in self-pity about how hard it was for them as youngsters and how lucky we were….maybe it was, but they did not know our circumstances, some of us being dirt poor. It left many of us quite angry, because that is what we often heard from our parents and relatives. But we were so lucky to have attended such a great school and we knew it.

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