“Have a look around. That’ll help explain where I’m at,” he says.
From retro sci fi film posters to Matisse art prints, postcards, photographs, artefacts and quotable quotes, there’s not a dull space, save the ceiling.
“I’m thinking about sticking things up there next,” Simon says, having run out of room everywhere else.
All of this decoration does come in handy. Simon says often, when his education students pop in for a chat, they’ll bring their own children with them.
“I tell the kids to look around and try to find a place in my office that’s not interesting,” he says. The challenge usually gives him 20 minutes of quiet time with his student.
Simon is a lecturer in design and technology, and visual and performing arts. The subjects are also his passion. Before teaching, Simon was a bespoke shoe maker.
He learnt his craft in Italy, after first studying the Italian language. He then taught others to make shoes by hand in Adelaide for 17 years. The Douglas Mawson Institute was one of the top five places in the world to learn the trade, and as such Simon’s students came from across the globe.
“I discovered if I wanted to make money I should make shoes, but I also discovered I was a good teacher,” he says.
“My own school experience was so bad, it gave me the opportunity to make a difference to education. It was a wonderful opportunity to get people to think differently.”
Simon loves his office space, but he also loves what’s outside the door; the FM Courtis Art Collection.
“It started as a collection for the Victorian Teachers College as a way of giving trainee teachers access to culture,” Simon says. “The collection belongs to education. Not in terms of ownership, but in terms of intention and use. It’s a working collection for a working college.”
The collection consists of more than 400 works by some of the country’s leading artists, from the late 1800s to today.
Simon has used the works to develop a student project called Art Slice. “It’s about modelling what teachers can do in schools,” he says. “The higher purpose of the collection is to get everyone to learn how to critically reflect, and then to critically reflect about everything in life.”