Guinness World Records has honored a Jesuit with the record of world’s oldest active teacher.
Jesuit Father Geoffrey Schneider, hailing from Sydney, Australia, turns 100 in December. But you wouldn’t know it from looking at him. “When I ask the students to guess my age, they usually say 70,” says Fr. Schneider, who teaches at St. Aloysius’ College in Sydney.
Born in 1912, Fr. Schneider became a teacher in 1940 “because I thought teaching was a good thing to do and I taught boys to write well.” He says he became a priest in 1946 “because I thought priests did good work.”
He recounts the changes in education he has observed over the course of his career. “We had no smart boards but plenty of chalk,” he says. Fr. Schneider also witnessed the introduction of female teachers. “It was unusual at first but I got used to it and we welcomed them because they did a good job.”
When asked about his plans in coming years, Fr. Schneider affirms his commitment to teaching. “Retirement?” he says, “so I can read the paper every morning and then forget what’s in it? That’s what a retired friend told me happens to him. I just feel I can be more useful here. All I know is I will be teaching next year.”
Fr. Schneider has collected plenty of insight during his 47 years of teaching at St. Aloysius. He cites “a mountain of patience” as his secret to bringing out the best in his students. “If things are going wrong, don’t start shouting. Just proceed quietly and things will settle down eventually,” he says. “Their books will eventually open.”
Fr. Schneider is highly regarded at St. Aloysius. When students were asked to name a new building at the school after their favorite Jesuit saint, they chose “Saint” Schneider.
“I didn’t worry about it at the time, really, but after that we received a direction that the Jesuits were not to have any buildings named after them while they are alive,” says Fr. Schneider.
Fr. Schneider is an avid cricket and football fan and loves going on the ferry to watch the surfers. He also takes walks as much as possible. “I used to walk four or five miles to the college oval,” he says. “Now I get tired very quickly.” [Daily Telegraph, ICN, The Australian,Mosman Daily]