Teaching has strings attached

Jim Kelly has quit as a teacher at Southern Cross University’s School of Contemporary Music because he doesn’t possess a degree.
Jim Kelly has quit as a teacher at Southern Cross University’s School of Contemporary Music because he doesn’t possess a degree. File

AN Australian guitar legend is leaving the School of Contemporary Music at Southern Cross Uni- versity - and all because he doesn't have a degree.

Jim Kelly, the co-founder of the first Australian fusion band Crossfire and long-time high-demand session guitarist in Sydney, started teaching at the Lismore campus 21 years ago.

It was a time when the music school was morphing from a classically-based tradition into the School of Contemporary Music.

The then head of the music school, Professor Clive Pascoe, was so delighted to have a drawcard like Jim Kelly on his faculty he secured tenure for him.

Mr Kelly chose to go part-time about three years ago.

"We heard at the end of last year that people who wanted to teach in 2012 had to have an inter-view," Mr Kelly told The Northern Star.

"We all had to submit our resumes and wait to be called in. I heard that most of the interviews had been done, but I hadn't been called. Then I heard that people without a degree wouldn't be able to continue teaching."

There followed an anxious waiting time in which Mr Kelly tried to make contact with the course co-ordinator, and the head of the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor Mike Evans.

When nobody returned his calls, Mr Kelly made an appointment to see Prof Evans, and instead of waiting to be told he no longer had a position, he quit.

"An interview would have been conducted by one of my previous students and my dignity stick wouldn't allow me to do it," he said.

Prof Evans told The Northern Star the outcome of interviews was not predetermined.

"Jim was welcome to take part," he said.

"It is anticipated new standards for teaching qualifications would be introduced in 2014 ... teaching staff will need to have a degree qualification one higher than what they are teaching. In particular contexts it may be that professional experience may trump those qualifications."

Topics:  guitar music teacher univeristy

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