More from 2009: Sydney High revisited

Seems like yesterday! See also Tag Archives: Sydney High.

29 January: “The Mine”

They’ve been doing a lot of work at Sydney Boys High. The grounds look fantastic, even if the main building is due for a paint job. Even the web site has had a makeover!

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Some of the Class of 2014 (!) lining up outside the gym. I was Class of 1959!

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New tennis courts. There are new basketball courts on “The Flat”

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These were amazing, changing as you walked around them. Note Craig Wing on the mug shots top left, and Andrew Goodwin behind the top head…

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Ten years ago

Back in The Gong (and using City Diggers wifi) — but first some posts from my January 2009 photo blog.

Moore Park minimalism: 19 January

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Hot again in Prince Alfred Park 2

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Passing Parade: Redfern 25 January

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Sixty years on

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?

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See also 1959 revisited and The year my voice broke…, which refers to 1958.

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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…

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Ninth Wollongong Christmas!

Not all of them in Wollongong though — but yes, by Christmas 2010 I was installed in West Wollongong.

Looking back ten years to Christmas 2008:

Christmas Day in Surry Hills and East Redfern

26 DEC 2008

I refrained from taking photos of the little gathering at M’s place – just G, M, Sirdan, A (a Japanese friend of M) and I. It was however a very pleasant day. Sirdan stayed on longer and had, he tells me, a lovely time, while I left a little earlier to accompany G to Central Station.

I did take some pics of M’s garden balcony.

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And on the way back home from Central took one of Elizabeth Street Surry Hills, which you could call “the Christmas Day effect”.

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Only on Christmas Day are the streets of Surry Hills so free of traffic!

Redfern Park: Christmas Day 2008

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Don’t ask! It was just there. Seemed somehow appropriate…

And the 2008 HSC?

Just to complete the set from the previous post: in 2008 I was tutoring some HSC candidates and others in Chinatown. Here is a sample:

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?

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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….