Just As I Am: A Life of JR Darling
Just as I Am is a biography of Sir James Darling. It provides a detailed account of the life of a young Englishman who came to Australia in 1930 as the headmaster of Geelong Grammar School, and who after settling in Victoria spent the remainder of his life in his adopted country as a noteworthy public figure. Darling was an administrator and educational leader of note. The book draws extensively on archival documents and interviews to recount three successive phases of Darling's life (1899-1995): his upbringing and formation as an English schoolmaster prior to his arrival in Australia; his 32-year career as a headmaster along with his wider engagement in a number of Victorian and Australian educational agencies; and his subsequent contribution to major areas of Australian public policy. Darling's most notable engagement after his retirement from Geelong Grammar School was his six-year tenure (1961-67) as chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. In all, he was involved part-time in broadcasting and television for 14 years and also as an advisor to governments on immigration policy for 19 years. He was also a member of the council of the University of Melbourne for 38 years (1933-1971). Other areas of public policy in which he played a high-level advisory role included road safety and the performing arts. For the 1988 Bicentenary, Darling was formally acknowledged as one of 200 Australians who had made the nation great. In the twilight of his long public career, for 15 years Darling wrote Saturday reflections for the Age newspaper.
Peter Gronn graduated BA (Hons) in History and Political Science at the University of Melbourne in 1968. After completing a Diploma of Education in 1969, he was employed by the Department of Education for four years as a teacher of humanities in technical schools. He then completed a PhD at Monash in 1979 and, in 1980, was appointed Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Monash. Subsequently he was promoted to a personal chair in 2003. After a brief stint as a Professor at the University of Glasgow (2007-08), in 2008 Peter was appointed Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge, where he remained until his retirement in 2015. He was head of Faculty at Cambridge (2011-14) and coordinated the University's bid to secure UK government approval and funding for Cambridge's new primary school, the sole primary university training school in England. The story of the University of Cambridge Primary School is recounted in his most recent book, co-edited with James Biddulph, the headteacher: A University's Challenge: Cambridge's Primary School for the Nation (2016).