Yes, I know. Out of sequence … But it does pretty much wrap up these posts selecting from the 2010s!
In today’s Sydney Morning Herald two once-familiar faces illustrating They topped the HSC over the past 40 years – what are they doing now?
Jason Hui (left) who topped the state in the 1988 HSC, is now a gastroenterologist and hepatologist in Sydney.
I remember them both but not from Year 12 as 1988 I was at Masada College in St Ives.
Actually I have gone through 50 years of HSC, though out of the fray for the last eight. Some tutoring in Sydney’s Chinatown in 2010 was my last hurrah.
Now as for FIFTY years ago see Shire: Jannali, Cronulla, family.
1966 I began teaching at Cronulla High School, now in Scott Morrison’s electorate. My second HSC class there — and the second HSC ever! — have a reunion planned. I have been invited, but am not sure I can make it. Night-time events in Sydney are an issue for me these days, but I will surely be there in spirit.
Class of 1968 member Paul Weirick has also sent a list of those attending. Brought back lots of memories. Fortunately, I had been able to attend a couple of events around the 50th anniversary of the school itself — so I haven’t totally missed out.
1978 I was on secondment to teacher training at the University of Sydney, but knew the Class of 78 at Wollongong High.
1988 is already covered. 1998 I was at Sydney Boys High again. Also finishing my Grad Cert TESOL at UTS.
Students at Sydney Boys High School sit their HSC English exam on October 25, 1981.
Photo from Essential Kids.
More on Jason Hui — found online.
HSC stars 10 years on (Edited Extract From “Sunday Life” January ’99)
Jason Hui, 27, of Sydney Boys’ High, came first in the state in 1988 with 496. He studied 4U maths, 2U English, 2U physics, 2U chemistry and 2U economics and is a doctor.
When he arrived in Australia at 13, Hui’s English skills were poor. He started year 9 and could barely understand the teacher.
His parents had sent him and his older brother out from Hong Kong to study. They boarded with an Australian family throughout high school and their parents visited when they could. “If you come from overseas with the aim of studying and going to university, you tend to be very focused and less distracted by other things. As the HSC drew closer I just studied whenever there was time. But I loved maths, physics and chemistry so it wasn’t a burden.
“Working hard was the norm in my school. It was a fantastic year with a lot of very bright people—there were two 4-Unit maths classes. I think we all pushed each other along and there was a lot of competition. I’m sure I wouldn’t have done as well at another school.”
At the time, Hui was tossing up between medicine and engineering and says he probably chose medicine “because there were a lot of engineers in my family and I wanted to do something different.” Looking back, it was the right choice. I can’t imagine myself in anything different.
“The amazing thing about medicine is you never stop learning. At each stage you encounter new situations and you have new and difficult decisions to make. That’s what makes it so interesting.”
Hui did six years at Sydney University, sharing the University Medal with Mark Gorbatov (88)—a former Sydney Boys’ classmate who came second in the HSC in the same year with 495.
“When I did the HSC, people said it was the hardest exam you ever did. At Uni, you quickly realise that is totally untrue. Exams get harder as you become more advanced and studying and working at the same time is much harder. To work 9-10 hours a day and then get home, have dinner and spend three or four more hours studying is very difficult.”
And that sparks my memory! I recall — and this was before my getting expertise in teaching English as a second language — seeing in 1985-6 that Jason had a problem. I referred him to a then neighbour of mine in Chippendale — unfortunately I can’t recall his name: a delightful young man who was then doing Linguistics at Sydney University under the famous Professor Michael Halliday and Dr Jim Martin. The neighbour gave Jason some help with his English.
My coachee was unfamiliar with the expression “can’t see the wood for the trees”, so I explained that it means losing sight of the whole pattern because details grow and grow at an alarming rate. This is a state many HSC students find themselves in. So how to guard against it?
Photo by Neil Whitfield 2008: artificial forest at the Sydney Chinese Garden
Make sure you read and understand the course description. My coachee and I are working on the Frankenstein and Blade Runner pair. The first thing to note is that the module is called TEXTS IN TIME: TEXTS AND CONTEXTS. That is the wood.
This module requires students to COMPARE TEXTS in order to EXPLORE THEM IN RELATION TO THEIR CONTEXTS. It develops students’ understanding of THE EFFECTS OF CONTEXT and QUESTIONS OF VALUE…
Students examine ways in which social, cultural and historical context influences aspects of texts, or the ways in which changes of context lead to changed values being reflected in texts. This includes study and use of the language of texts, consideration of purposes and audiences, and analysis of the content values and attitudes being conveyed…
OK, that means:
1. You need to know what issues or themes of interest each text embodies. In our two, for example, one can think of: the moral/ethical issues in science and technology; the need for companionship or love; what it is to be human; what is “natural”… And so on. It does not greatly matter what the issues are, so long as they are important ones and are major issues in both Frankenstein and Blade Runner. Your teacher and your class will no doubt determine perhaps two or three big ideas to hang your readings on.
2. You need to appreciate what was being thought, said and done around the time each text was composed: 1818 in one case, and 1982 in the other. Consider also where each text was composed. How does what you discover about this explain why each text may have been composed? Be careful here. It can be tempting to write history or philosophy and forget about the actual texts. Not a good idea.
3. Having found an issue, explore where and how it is presented in each text. Don’t forget to be specific rather than general. Find key passages or scenes. Look closely at the techniques used in their making. Then ask “Why is this passage/scene like this?” What in the context may have shaped the way it has been done? What in the context made this issue of sufficient interest to the composer and his/her readers and viewers? Where does the composer stand on it? What does the composer regard as important, or troubling, or worth arguing for or against on this issue? Now you will be exploring values and attitudes.
4. There are also genre issues to think about: The Gothic, science fiction, dystopias, film noir… Why have these genres thrived at various points in history? Why have they persisted? What is the relation of our two texts to these genres?
It really is hard to coordinate all this thinking. Anyone who tells you the HSC has been dumbed down is just plain dumb! I know that I never had to do anything half as difficult in my final year of high school in 1959! The good thing is that the issues raised in these texts really are interesting – and important!
So, good luck. Also, any suggestions about how to organise the material in an exam-friendly way will no doubt be appreciated by others. You may use the comment space here for that, if you care to.
The truth is out there
Yes, you are also lucky. There is so much good material to explore, some of it suggested on my previous post on this….
Yes, next year will mark sixty years since my final year as a student at Sydney Boys High. They had trams still then — I wonder if the troubled new ones will be running next year?
Recently I downloaded the latest Flying Higher — an excellent new publication. And look, my Maths teacher 1958-59 is still with us! He was my boss too from late 1985-1987, and then 1989 through the early 90s. He claimed, probably correctly, that I owed him a Maths assignment from 1958…