Operation Oboe Field trip

Operation Oboe Field trip

VC's award recognises Garth Pratten who continues to inspire future thinkers

20 May 2019

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Senior Lecturer,

Deputy Head of Centre - SDSC

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Quality education is built upon great teaching. We can all remember those teachers and supervisors who influenced our own learning. This is why we celebrate the recognition of Dr Garth Pratten and Dr Yuko Kinoshita at the recent The Australian National University (ANU) teaching awards.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt recognised the essential impact educators have on the learning experiences and their influences on positive outcomes of university students.

Helping students gain a deeper understanding of the causes, conduct and effects of war, after dedicating his career to this pursuit, was a key driver for why military historian, Dr Pratten chose to teach.

Dr Pratten, based at ANU College of Asia and the Pacific’s Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, was recognised for his outstanding contribution to student learning, receiving the Vice-Chancellor’s Citation for his work in convening the ANU study tour, Exploring Operation Oboe. The course takes eight students on a study tour of Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam, the locations for Operation Oboe at the end of the Second World War, the largest military campaign ever planned and executed by Australia.

“In a crowded field dominated by popular narrative history, frequently peppered with clichés and half-truths, I strive to bring sophistication and nuance to the study of war and warfare, while never forgetting the essential humanity of the experience,” he said.

“Given many of my students aspire to careers in the defence and national security community I feel an added imperative to equip them with the knowledge and skills to function effectively in this environment.”

Margy Ridge overlooking Tarakan airfieldTeam Oboe 2018 stand on ‘Margy’ ridge overlooking Tarakan airfield. Margy was heavily defended by Japanese soldiers and the site of fierce close-quarters fighting between them and the Australian troops ordered to capture it. Image: Patrick McMillan.

Dr Pratten’s approach to teaching goes well beyond the classroom, so his students better understand the way Australia’s history is intertwined with its regional neighbours and the nature of warfare.

“Borneo was an adventurous teaching environment where learning was experiential and participative,” he said.

“Students scrambled up jungle clad hills, searched out long overgrown battle sites and debated tactics and strategies.

“Ultimately, learning here, like the conduct of military operations, was an intellectual and physical experience.”

“His teaching has inspired theses, career decisions and friendships. His passion for his subject, dedication to his students and genuine good nature has inspired an abiding loyalty and respect among those whom he taught,” said one student.

Oboe Trip - Green BeachTeam Oboe 2018 leave their mark on Green Beach, the landing location of Australian forces in their attack on Brunei Bay. Image: Patrick McMillan.

Dr Pratten’s approach has made an impression with his students, who will no doubt go on to be effective policymakers, leaders and experts in their own right.

Dr Yuko Kinoshita was also recognised, receiving the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence for her teaching of Japanese language and linguistics.

“I believe university education should foster people who think well and enjoy doing so, who have the emotional and intellectual courage to handle uncertainty, who form their views carefully by considering multiple possibilities and who update their beliefs when faced with new information,” she said.

Based at the College’s School of Culture, History and Language, Dr Kinoshita said she believed in university language and linguistics teaching “as a platform for intellectual and emotional development that brings life-long benefits to individual students and, ultimately, to society”.

Associate Professor Carol Hayes, Associate Dean (Student Experience) at the College said the award winners are teaching innovators who are key to providing students at ANU with an outstanding education.

“The VC Award winners are at the cutting edge of innovating educational practice and have been recognised for their outstanding practice and their commitment to their students,” she said.

See the full list of the Vice-Chancellor’s teaching awards winners via the ANU Newsroom.

If you would like to nominate a teacher or supervisor for an ANU College of Asia and the Pacific Teaching Award, you can do so until 26 May 2019.

If you are interested participating in future offerings of Exploring Operation Oboe (expected to run next in June 2020), contact the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific Student Centre. Header image: Patrick McMillan.

Updated:  21 March 2023/Responsible Officer:  Bell School Marketing Team/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team