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Chris’ working life began as an office clerk in a large farm implement manufacturing company in Dalby Qld. After a year he began an apprenticeship as a fitter and turner in the same company and successfully completed his indentures four years later.
Looking for an adventure he then travelled to Israel to work on a Kibbutz. He primarily worked in the farm section of the Kibbutz producing turf for many of the major tourist and residential developments in Israel at that time.
On his return to Australia he began working at the local Dalby Hospital and completed his training as an enrolled nurse. He then worked at Baillie Henderson Hospital in Toowoomba for a year.
Chris completed several years of Bible College training and worked as a teacher and then Dean of Cornerstone Bible College in Emerald, Qld. He moved to Charters Towers in North Queensland to commence employment as a church Pastor with the Churches of Christ and Baptist Churches. During this time he also worked as a Nurse, Newspaper Photographer, School Teacher, Chaplain and a variety of other jobs to augment his role in the church.
Chris’ interest in education was developed through his studies at the University of Southern Queensland where he completed a Bachelor in Further Education and Training. Chris moved to the Gold Coast in 2002 and completed his Masters in Education (Online Learning) that year. At this time he began applying some of the ideas formulated during his studies to the development of a Cert IV in Christian Ministry. A number of students were engaged in individually adapted learning that sought to provide learners situated learning within their community of practice.
In 2007 Chris moved to Toowoomba with the aim to develop an applied spirituality in the workplace. He became a builder’s labourer working on site with the purpose of developing a holistic mentoring model that produced positive learning outcomes for the business.
Chris began Fortress Learning with Bryan early in 2008. This was the result of a shared passion for learning and a sense of adventure to create a business that seeks to enable access to that learning and to build relationships that value integrity, trust and honesty.
In 2010 Chris spent 6 months teaching Business and English in China. This was an adventure and educational experience for the whole family. Chris and the family returned in February, 2011.
In 2014 Chris began a 6 month leadership course with the Centre for Courage and Renewal in Austin, Texas. He will complete this in April 2015. One of his recent learning influences has been the work of Parker Palmer who founded the Courage and Renewal Academy and authored the work, The Courage to Teach. This experience has inspired Chris to recommence his Phd studies in 2015.
Masters in Education (Online Learning)
Graduate Certificate in Theology
Bachelor in Further Education and Training
Diploma in Theology
Diploma of Vocational Education and Training
Diploma of Training Design and Development
Diploma in Counselling and Groupwork
Diploma in Business (Frontline Management)
Certificate IV in Training and Assessment
Certificate III in Human Services
Certificate III in Fitting, Turning and Machining.
Doctor of Philosophy, University of Southern Queensland
[Meditation is] the detachment from the confusion all around us in order to have a richer attachment to God
“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”
? Mahatma Gandhi
I discovered a strange thing over the past weekend.
Happiness is about spending time with people. Valuing them. Listening to the person. Not judging.
This is my wife’s perspective on the weekend we spent away.
“Chris told me he was taking me away for a ‘romantic weekend’. Our room with a queen size bed. Restaurant that serves pre- dinner drinks & nibblies. Ensuites that is a mere 200 metres from our queen bed. And a view to die for once you walk 2.4 km directly uphill. (Romantic weekend conjured up a different image in my head.)”
We spent hours walking together. Talking. Listening. Sometimes not saying anything. There were no shops.
It was a happy time.
I awake suddenly with a start. It is dark as death. Dark, and terribly late at night. The sky is filled with barely visible clouds whipping across the void.
I am standing on a hillside, almost a cliff, a sheer tumbling down, plummeting down to the pitch black water. I sense rather than see the saltbush and stunted shrubs that cling for dear life against the sea, churning so far below.
The air is full of the roar of the waves, grinding and casting and moaning against the rocks far beneath, bellowing and sighing, as though great Behemoth were gnawing away at the precarious handhold life has here, trying to drag it, spinning and circling, into its foaming maw.
I can smell the salt fresh of the air, the tang of it, sea spray ice-cold across my face.
Across the black sea, made velvet by height, shines the moon, huge by the horizon. It is as though she has drawn close for some oblique, esoteric reason of her own, casting her light like a highway.
There is hope, then, but mediated. If the sun were risen, how different it would be. I wrap my arms around my body, holding in my life-heat. It is still deep night, as though the sun were dead, leaving only an unreliable memory, were it not for the moon, relaying his light – reflected, lessened. A token, a remembrance, of hope then, rather than the hope itself. Just enough to see the next step by; not enough to warm me.
I have to move, to walk. I can barely see the faintest of paths, rocky, muddy, treacherous. If I slip, if I miss my footing, then I will join the rocks and be consumed by the all-devouring mouth of the sea.
But move I must. To stay here is death as well, ossifying in the despairing cold. Though I can barely see, there is just enough light to walk the next step of the path, hesitantly and with painful delicacy, gripping onto plants, as they loom out of the night, revealing their branches against the dim sky.
As I walk, following the dim path carefully, painstakingly, along the cliff edge, I have a subtle sense that, though I can see no-one through the black, and hear no-one past the inexorable crash and roar of the sea, I am not alone. Someone has walked this path before. And the faintest echo of laughter, the scent of the best wine kept for last, a fragment of sun-warmed dust seems to brush against my skin. The faintest of hopes, when hope seems lost.
Alister Pate (Pate 2011, 10)
My son Toby plays Rugby Union. He loves his footy. He is fanatical about his sport and Rugby at the moment is the top of his list. He sleeps with his rugby ball. He lives for Friday night training and the Saturday game.
In his competition Toby is always the smallest guy on the field. I estimate that some of the players in the other teams would be almost double his weight and half his height again. Toby’s position is hooker. This means that he is always in the midst of the action.
Every week I watch him get punished by the opposition. He is small enough for most of the other guys to easily knock him down. Every time he gets the ball and doesn’t manage to offload he gets flattened. But, he never stops getting into the rucks, tackling, looking for the ball and loving the game.
The other week his team played a particularly competitive team. Their coach had obviously done a lot of work with them and they were big, fast and aggressive (a lot like their coach actually).
I watched as Toby got jersey slung to the ground by one of the opposition and then jumped on by another player. As he tried to get up the player started punching him.
Toby barely gave him a second glance as the other guy swung into mid air. Toby was already on his way running back the game. The opposition player was letting his team down because he had lost his focus on the main game.
In the end I am not sure who won or lost this game. I do know that our guys played with their hearts. I, like every other proud Dad that day felt my heart swell as I watched my boy play to his full potential against a bigger, faster and stronger team.
Three important lessons I have learned about teamwork after watching from my son’s footy games:
1. Keep your eye on the ball – In the words of Steven Covey, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”. When the other guy wanted to throw a punch Toby was already running to the next ruck. He was focussed on the game and wasn’t going to be distracted from the main thing.
2. What the ref says goes even though he may not be always right.
We all need to get used a few bad calls in life. The ref is human and can only view the game through his perspective. I have seen games of footy where parents have actually gone onto to the playing field to abuse the ref for a bad call. I wonder to myself what sort of lessons the players learning from the adults’ behaviour.
Any learning requires some adjustment of our prior understandings. Learn to ask the question and then get on with the task at hand.
We appreciate the feedback that we get in our Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. We are constantly looking at ways to improve. And, sometimes we get it wrong. This is true for anyone who wants to learn. We can try to justify ourselves to the person who is making the call or we can get on and learn the lesson.
3. My feedback on the game is very important to my son.
One of the most important parts of Toby’s footy game is at the end when he asks me how he went. My feedback matters to Toby. He needs me to watch him and give him advice.
This I think is the most important lesson I have learned. That going to the footy every week is one of my most valuable inputs I have into my son’s life. When he asks me, “did I run forward this week, Dad”? My affirmation is vital for Toby. He needs to know that he has done exactly what I asked and I love watching his face light up when he is told he did well.
Learning is about growth. We only understand ourselves when we others take the time to give us feedback.
You can probably tell that I am quite a proud Dad. I love the way that my son is developing and I feel a great responsibility in ensuring that he is equipped to grow into a responsible adult. I am continually learning about how to become a better parent and am looking for ways that I can grow my understanding of my children.
Rudyard Kipling says it so well in his poem, “If”,
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12
9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
During the time we lived in China we experienced many things that have amazed, saddened and touched our lives.
One day I was walking home from the supermarket and I heard this amazing sound reverberating through the streets in my area. I am one of those guys who isn’t musical at all but I know what I like. And, I think that this guy was good, very good. A lot of other people thought so too because people began coming out of shops and crowding around the footpath to hear where this amazingly beautiful sound was coming from.
From, among all the people emerged its source. It was a guy pushing in front of him a trolley with a portable PA system and on top of that he had a donation box. The first thing I noticed about his person was that he was dressed very poorly. Xian is quite cold and he only had on a fairly thin coat that was quite dirty. The next thing I noticed was that he had a white cane draped over his arm. He was also blind. It appeared the way he survived was to literally sing for his supper.
I had to go into a shop to get a couple of things and by the time that I came out he was very close. But, he had stopped. He was still singing but he couldn’t go any further forward because the edge of his trolley was caught on the edge of the wheel of a pushbike.
Although it was obvious to everyone else he couldn’t see what he was trying to push past. He was just stuck in the same place, singing beautifully but unable to move forward.
I watched for a short period of time and saw that no one was going to help him. I decided that I was going to sort this out and moved the bike wheel out of his way. Straight away he was able to start moving forward again. As he went past he thanked me (xie xie).
The beauty of a good partnership is that sometimes you are there to clear the way for each other. What can seem like an insurmountable problem for one may be solved very simply by the other. Together you create something of far greater value than what could be done alone.
“People are like stained glass windows: They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light within.”