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The Vetting of Wisdom: Joan Montgomery & The Fight for PLC

Home Biography The Vetting of Wisdom: Joan Montgomery & The Fight for PLC

In the story of the biggest school blow-up in Australian history, The Vetting of Wisdom is a gripping tale of a revered Principal-acclaimed nationwide as the leading girls’ school educator of her day-loved and admired by all-but with a determined Presbyterian Church minority bent on getting rid of her. Following the formation of the Uniting Church in 1977, the continuing Presbyterians seized PLC and Scotch College from what they saw as the wreckage of Church Union and sought to cast the premier girls’ school in their own church-focused image. They were met by court cases, parliamentary fiats, outraged parents, storms of mail, fiery Council debates, packed public meetings and a voluminous, disbelieving press. But after years of bitter protest, Joan Montgomery eventually fell only to be replaced by PLC’s first male headmaster in 47 years. For Kim Rubenstein, a former PLC school captain and now with her own brilliant career, it was her first experience of power trumping reason. In the busy years since school, she has often puzzled over what made Montgomery such an inspiring role model for PLC girls and what, in the end, made Joan’s detractors think otherwise. Joan Montgomery and the Fight for PLC is the careful piecing together of this puzzle.


Kim Rubenstein tells the gripping story of a revered Principal—acclaimed nationwide as the leading girls’ school educator of her day—being assailed by a determined Presbyterian Church minority hellbent on removing her from office and returning PLC to “bible-centred” teaching.

Writing deftly and intimately about the visionary educator Joan Montgomery, Rubenstein expands her canvas to ask the big questions: how does a woman sustain the courage for leadership, integrity and generosity? Anna Funder | author

A dramatic blow-by-blow account of how proponents of bible-focused teaching overthrew a major Australian school’s distinguished Principal who wanted to educate girls for the modern world. Dr Jim Mitchell | author of the Scotch College, Melbourne sesquicentenary history

A remarkable book combining a meaningful picture of Joan with a history of the bruising battle to preserve her Principalship and the
values she embodied.
The Hon. Alex Chernov AC QC | 28th Governor of Victoria

Steely-eyed, deeply researched and lovingly crafted, this portrait of the life and leadership of Joan Montgomery is a gem. Clare Wright OAM | Professor of History, La Trobe University

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Dimensions 229 × 25.679 × 152 cm


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