In Memory of Bob Beattie

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CODE grieves the loss of one of our early founders. CODE is honoured to share this tribute to founding member and past president Bob Beattie.

CODE grieves the loss of one of our early founders. A gentleman and a gentle man, Bob Beattie was an exemplary teacher who contributed immeasurably to drama in education in Ontario. As Michael Wilson stated in an email to me, “Bob was one of the giants. I get currency from being the first president of CODE, but Bob really started it along with Helen Dunlop. They knew each other at Oakwood C.I. in Toronto when she was the English head in the 1960s.” David Booth says, “Bob was the face of CODE at every conference for many years.”

Bob was a member of CODE’s Advisory Board from the start of the organization in 1970, and for many years helped to guide the executive members in their decision-making. In 1977, CODE's sixth conference, he took on the daunting task of conference chair. As if all of this was not enough to fill his time while continuing to carry a full teaching load, Bob wrote the first specific Ontario Ministry of Education resource document (1970) and was the lead of the writing team for the first Ministry Guideline for Dramatic Arts (1981).

Back in the days when CODE published its journal, Drama Contact, Bob wrote about that involvement. The writing was done in the summers of 1978 and 1979. The title of his article revealed his sense of humour: ‘’Officialdom’s Magical Mystery Tour or How a Ministry Guideline Comes to Be.’’ This lengthy article gives you a sense of the man. It begins

            ‘’Does that document really exist?’’

        “Good gravy! It’s been two years now! When are we going to get that Guideline?”

 For two years, the Writing Team for the new Dramatic Arts Guideline, to be published by the Ontario Ministry of Education, has been fielding questions such as these. And, indeed, we often wonder just when we will be able to answer, “yes, it does exist, and here it is.” At the same time, we have come to realize that the fact that things sometimes move slowly may be a virtue, that people involved in its publication are committed to the emergence of the document as a valid piece of work. Rumour to the contrary, a Ministry Guideline does not spring from the head of some mythic government official, fully formed, as did Athena from the head of Zeus. There is a procedure, and that procedure, while it may seem at first glance overly complex, is devised to ensure that what educators receive is something which will be of use in an informative and in a practical way. The Ministry is not involved in producing documents to be placed in a pile labelled “To Be Read – Sometime…” (Drama Contact, Vol. 1, No. 4, May, 1980).

 To say that Bob Beattie was committed to drama in education is an understatement. Honest, humble, enthusiastic, witty and reflective, his work shaped and promoted the teaching of drama. His influence continues to touch so many of us through all of his own students and all of the student teachers he mentored from several universities throughout Ontario. Bob's contributions and accomplishments, his generosity and wisdom and his leadership paved inroads for drama teachers. CODE salutes Bob Beattie, one of the great ones!

(Judith Doan would like to thank David Booth, Jane Deluzio, Nanette Levine, and Michael Wilson for their input.)