Robert Common

Robert Common
Teacher, Senior School English
Senior Assistant House Parent, Bolton House
Since: 
September, 2001
Degree: 
BA (Hons) (McGill); MA, BEd (Queen’s)
Email: 
robert [dot] common [at] smus [dot] ca

Meet experiential education head-on.

Robert Common was born in Ireland, and like so many of the Irish, his father, Dr. Haddon Common, emigrated to Canada and the family grew. After completing the Honours English program at McGill in 1966, young Mr. Common earned an MA degree at Queen's University, Kingston, with a thesis on early Tudor poetry. During that time Robert captained the University Rugby XV, and, with rugby in mind, applied for a teaching post in the United Kingdom. Teaching to "O Level" and "A Level" students and directing the school plays at Merchiston Castle in Edinburgh allowed him a vivid introduction to the tasks and the perils of the professional pedagogue.

Mr. Common returned to Queen's University as a teacher in the Faculty of Education in 1976. In 1978, he participated in a fifteen-month, 2,200 mile canoe and dog-sled journey across the subarctic regions of Canada, from the Yukon to Hudson's Bay.

Meeting "experiential education" head-on at Merchiston, and through contacts at Gordonstoun and Loretto in Scotland, at Schloss Salem in Germany, and at Brentwood College on Vancouver Island seems to have propelled this wandering teacher into the example set by Kurt Hahn and Jocelin Winthrop-Young, the founders of Outward Bound (1941), Atlantic World College (1962), and The Round Square (1968).

Mr. Common came to teach at SMUS in 2001 through the direct influence of Rob and Eva Cameron, longstanding and profoundly respected house parents of Bolton House. Mr. Common's daughter, Sarah, and son, Rupert, have also become teachers.