A life well lived – vale Pattie Morgan
On 8 April 2015 Pattie Morgan died after a brief bout of cancer.
Pattie moved to Kensington in 2002 after Tony, her husband, died. She chose Kensington for two reasons. One was that two of her four children, Ric Morgan and Meg Dunley lived here. The other reason was for the house she moved into.
Pattie had lived in Lower Templestowe for nearly 40 years, and the house became large, sad and lonely. When Meg told her she was moving up the road (part of the now-famous great house swap of Kensington) to Loretta’s house (Loretta moved to Iza’s place, Iza moved to Essendon), Pattie asked Meg if she could buy her house. The house in Bangalore Street, which had once been known as the Pink House, had been renovated by Meg and her parents. It was a lovely way for Pattie to live out her last 13 years.
Initially Pattie travelled from Kensington to Knox working as a kinder teacher with children requiring a second year of four-year-old kinder. When she retired three years later her life became only busier.
Pattie used her skills and knowledge, and contacts as a board member for Play Australia, to carve out a career as a play space designer for childcare centres, school playgrounds, and kindergartens all over Victoria. Her ideas were always innovative, and often pushed the boundaries of the more cautious, risk averse committees. Pattie demonstrated strong advocacy for children and play, using a creative and inspired approach and sensitively gave wisdom to others. One of the last play spaces she assisted with is at the site of the old Royal Children’s Hospital.
There was so much more to Pattie though, and her death leaves a hole in many parts of the community. In her years in Kensington, she contributed to her local community and to others through many forms of volunteering. Pattie assisted three days a week at Kensington Primary School in the art room (she was a qualified ceramicist), mentored a number of staff, ran a Grade 5 and 6 book club, and worked with the reticent readers. She formed strong friendships with staff, students and parents.
Pattie always had a keen interest in nature, and she used her knowledge and love of indigenous plants by working with the Kensington Stationeers to weed, dig and plant. Here she also helped Kerrie, who instigated the group, to connect with others to get the mural in the tunnel painted.
Pattie joined KenSingers (the choir at Kensington Neighbourhood House) early after moving here so she could meet others in the area. The choir became a very important friendship group for her.
Pattie will be missed by all 18 members of her family and the community.
We remember Pattie Morgan
Our friend and colleague of many years passed away in April 2015 after a brief illness.
Pattie’s professional interests spanned mobile preschool services, special education, outdoor playspaces and sustainability. In all of these spheres Pattie demonstrated strong advocacy for children and play, a creative and inspired approach and sensitively given wisdom to others. At Pattie’s funeral her own children fondly recalled how everything was a learning experience and how their mother’s natural sense of curiosity and wonder pervaded their lives. All of these attributes, along with her infectious laugh and work ethic, contributed to Pattie being an inspiring early childhood professional over many years.
She began her teaching career in NSW, but later moved to Victoria where she is best known for her varied roles. In relation to the Victorian mobile preschool services she is the acknowledged pioneer as Michelle Hocking recalls:
In the early 1990’s I worked on the North West Mobile Pre-School and this was my first introduction to Pattie’s work as the archives revealed her to be the program pioneer and her work served as a template for other Victorian Mobile services. Minimalist approaches were critical on the Mobile “truck” and Pattie’s notes and diagrams on how the vehicle might be organised and prepared, with meticulous attention to detail and obvious dedication to the task were evident. This valuable and (considered by some) controversial program would simply not have run as effectively without Pattie’s pioneering work at the inception stage.
Pattie also undertook further studies in special education at the Institute of Early Childhood Development, Melbourne and she had a particular interest in working with children and families in this area. She was an educator with the City of Knox taking a leadership and teaching role in a unique program for children needing a second year of four-year old preschool. It was also in this setting that her passion for designing outdoor playspaces came to the fore. Deb Moore first met Pattie in this context and as her Preschool Field Officer recalls:
I will never forget Pattie’s insistence in providing challenging places, equipment and materials for her children and their program. Not for these children was a 500mm board o the ground going to be enough; no, it needed to be a flying fox; a rope up a tree; and, a rocky outcrop to scramble over. Not for these children would a few odd wooden blocks be enough; they had a shed full of blocks of wood, pipes, ropes, pulleys, and materials to put together in a way only Pattie would have condoned. And, not for these children a sedate ‘lawn’ to play on; no, they had to ‘work’ on their own meaningful inventions and create their own dry creek bed, digging out the dirt for months before its completion so they could traverse the ravine they had constructed. At times, Pattie had to argue her case to ‘allow’ her children these ‘privileges’ rather than revert to a program deemed ‘safe’ by government officials. But, she was always able to o er her pedagogical reasoning and inevitably convince them of the error of their thinking.
Pattie was a Play Australia Board Member for 10 years and after finishing her work at the Knox eld Preschool she continued her advocacy for outdoor play through her role as a consultant and trainer. She worked for many years with Kerry Rogers, and they made the perfect team, complementing each other’s skills and experiences. Pattie promoted significant change in outdoor playspaces. Her easy ability to connect with educators and children and to ‘read’ play as well as the outdoor landscape and vegetation were invaluable in her design work. She was a very talented designer, and produced in collaboration with her clients, and in particular with her colleague Justin Staggard, many beautiful concept plans for outdoor play which were then used to guide the development in services throughout Victoria, as well as in the ACT, SA and NSW.
In more recent years Pattie was an active participant in the group of Australians who travelled to Hong Kong, Cardiff and most recently Istanbul to attend IPA Conferences. Pattie’s Poster Presentation at the Hong Kong Conference is remembered most fondly, as well as our efforts to keep up with her as we climbed Hong Kong Island! Pattie and Cathy Kiss travelled together in Wales in 2011 and most recently in Greece, exploring the history and terrain, enjoying extensive walks and visiting playspaces along the way.
Pattie lived sustainably before it was fashionable and she practised sustainability in early childhood settings well before the National Quality Standards were implemented. She was also an active member of Environmental Education in Early Childhood Vic. Inc. over many years.
Our sincere thanks Pattie for your insights, wisdom and dedication, and know that your legacy lives on through children’s play in many natural and challenging outdoor playspaces.
She was a magnificent friend to us all, we loved her, and we shall never forget her.
Pattie, we salute you for a life of outstanding service to your family, your community, and the children of Australia.
Thanks to Barbara Chancellor, Sue Elliott, Anne Houghton, Michelle Hocking, Deb Moore, Kerry Rogers, Barbara Champion and Stephanie Ralton for their contribution to this tribute.
The Age Obituary for Pattie Morgan
(This was cowritten by myself, my siblings and members of Play Australia)
Our mother, granny, friend, mentor and colleague of many years passed away after a brief illness in April 2015.
Pattie Morgan was born on 27 July 1940 in Sydney. She was the elder sister of John Nightingale. She trained as a teacher at Balmain Teachers College, met and married Tony Morgan and moved to Melbourne where she was to spend the rest of her life.
Pattie thought about family more broadly than most; all were accepted as family in her house. She loved and was loved in return. For her family, Sally, Ric, Becca and Meg, this seemed normal and has become part of their lives today.
Pattie placed great importance on maintaining cross-generational relationships. This meant her mindset did not age as much as others seemed to, and she rarely suffered from that alienation from youth that often occurs with age. Her grandchildren, all ten of them, played a key role in her life. She took up Facebook in order to stay connected with the younger members of her family.
Pattie was passionate about learning; every experience was a learning one, and she strove to find new ways of doing things and adapting the old. This evidenced in her professional life as a kindergarten teacher, developer of mobile preschool services, teacher educator, and play and playground expert. This passion for learning was also clear in her interests of art and design, gardening, ceramics, sustainability, music and Christian faith. Pattie lived sustainably and practised sustainability within her family and in early childhood settings well before it was fashionable.
In all of these spheres Pattie demonstrated strong advocacy for children and play, a creative and inspired approach and sensitively giving wisdom to others. At Pattie’s funeral her children fondly recalled how their mother’s natural sense of curiosity and wonder pervaded their lives. All of these attributes, along with her infectious laugh and work ethic, contributed to Pattie being an inspiring early childhood professional over many years.
Pattie was determined to see disadvantaged children access pre-school services, a value she held strongly for her entire life. She undertook further studies in special education at the Institute of Early Childhood Development, Melbourne. She then taught at the University of Melbourne Early Learning Centre demonstration preschool at Abbotsford for a number of years in the late 80s and early 90s before moving to the City of Knox. There she took on a leadership and teaching role in a unique program for children needing a second year of four-year old preschool. It was also in this setting that her passion for designing outdoor playspaces came to the fore.
Pattie was a Play Australia Board Member for ten years and, after Knoxfield Preschool, she continued her advocacy for outdoor play through her role as a consultant and trainer. She worked for many years with her friend Kerry Rogers, and they made the perfect team, complementing each other’s skills and experiences. Pattie promoted significant change in outdoor playspaces. Her ease in connecting with educators and children, and ‘reading’ play as well as the outdoor landscape and vegetation were invaluable in her design work. She was a very talented designer and, in collaboration with her clients, produced many beautiful concept plans for outdoor play, which were then used to guide the development of services throughout Victoria, as well as in the ACT, SA and NSW.
Pattie was an active participant in the group of Australian International Play Association members who travelled to Hong Kong, Cardiff and most recently Istanbul to attend IPA Conferences. Pattie’s poster presentation at the Hong Kong Conference is remembered most fondly by the members, as well as their efforts to keep up with her as they climbed Hong Kong Island!
Pattie’s life from beginning to end was broad. In her retirement Pattie not only designed playspaces, but also volunteered at the local primary school, assisting with art and literacy, planted at the local train station, and provided conversational English.
We salute Pattie Morgan for a life of outstanding service to her family, her community, and the children of Australia. A wonderful life, giving her all to the end.
The Morgan family and members of Play Australia.