When Robert Palmer began his training at Ballarat Teachers’ College in the 1960’s his experiences had been as a receiver of education, rather than an encourager of thinking.
The political climate at the time was all about ‘individual differences’ and ‘thematic studies’, but very few knew what these really meant. Robert certainly didn’t.
While in the classroom for each ‘teaching practicum’ he became known as ‘the magic man’ by the children attending schools in Ballarat, and Robert later found there was competition among the supervising lecturers to come and see what Robert was doing next.
On graduation Robert decided that he would like to further his experience in rural, or country, locations – so that is what he did.
Early in 1980 Australia’s newly-formed National Curriculum Development Centre asked Robert to trial some of the materials and approaches he had created in 1000 classrooms throughout Australia. A grant was provided to create, assemble distribute and independently assess ten teaching/learning packages, under the name of FUN ONES. Each pack contained 24 activity pages, followed a thematic approach for the numbers from 1 to 10, and addressed a wide range of individual experience levels.
The amount of funding could not address the demand – from within Australia and also from overseas – and this lead to the Curriculum Development Centre, in conjunction with the Education Department of Tasmania producing a large- format 86 page book ‘The Best of FUN ONES’.
In 1985 Robert produced 4 books in a series entitled ‘BRAIN FUN’. Each book contained 30 units and 20 gently-graded math questions, each for a specific area of mathematics development. These took up two-thirds of a page, and were supported by a logic puzzle. and a full-page pencil and paper activity.
The success of this series, and other publications, caused Robert to investigate the curriculum of fifteen different countries, correlate their aims and objectives, and create an A1-size chart ‘The Sequential Development of Mathematics’.
The chart provided a ‘road map’ for teachers, children and parents – some whom considered it to be the first Scope and Sequence Matrix for Mathematics in the world.
Robertis actively involved in community support networks, and especially in the development of user-friendly learning resources for people of all ages.