Blogging the 2010s — 123 — December 2018

Yes, I know. Out of sequence …  But it does pretty much wrap up these posts selecting from the 2010s!

How many HSCs is that now?

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?

595a5379877769d4e0554f9e9a1f0eb9308daa07

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.

prefects1968

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.

1444342757745
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.

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?

darlingharbour 025

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….

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?

044242b

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

1950 Grounds 3

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…

Screenshot (215)

Recalled from the turn of the century: chuffed!

On Facebook recently I posted some items from my English and ESL blog archives.

Neil Whitfield’s English and ESL site

“A great resource for all students and teachers…” — Frances M., English Teachers Association Bulletin Board, Mar 25, 2005. (NOTE: corrected link, but if you go there you will find the site referred to by its pre-retirement name and on its old Tripod.com address! The particular page that so impressed Frances M is now here.)

Of the first one I posted I said: “I just reread this for the first time in years, and aside from fond memories of Sydney High and Bob Li — he is second from the right in this photo from 20 years ago — it cheers me up to recall that I may after all have done some good through my teaching career!”

2000

Here is that post:

Multiculturalism — Bob’s story

In senior years students used to come voluntarily to the ESL staff if they felt their English may be costing them marks. Let one of 2000’s Year 12 students speak for himself on this, but it should be added that all his teachers assisted him achieve his goal–to study Medicine at the University of New South Wales:

Wish you all the best for Christmas and the New Year (and later the Chinese New Year). Hope you have a great holiday!

Thank you tons for teaching me 2 years of English, which enabled me to achieve the top 10% of the state: something I thought unrealistic before.

I still have all these 12/20 and 13/20 poetry essays from early year 11 in my folder… and also the 15/20 ‘The Scarlet Letter’ and ‘Richard III’ essays from the yr11 yearly exam. I still keep the 16/20, 17/20 ‘Empire of the Sun’, ‘Robert Gray’ essays from yr12 assessments, and also the 19/20 ‘Satire’ essay from the trial HSC. And of course, the ESL practice essays which scored 18/20 and 19/20 marked by you over the internet. And now, the record of achievement which says 91-100% percentile band in English.

It was indeed a solid progress, and I thank you again for teaching me, Sir!

The ex-student whose letter of thanks I just quoted is Bob Li (2000). In his email giving permission to quote him he said:

Of course you can quote me in the High Notes! I hope more and more students come to ESL and benefit from it just as I did. English is a headache for so many students from non-English speaking backgrounds. Continuous practice from year 7 is a great way to minimise (or even eliminate) the tremendous difficulty they are likely to experience in the HSC.

It is worth quoting the autobiographical piece Bob wrote as part of an ESL test at the beginning of Year 11 1999:

I’ve only been to Australia for six years, but my personal opinion about Australia has changed quite dramatically.

I still remember how I wanted to go back to China when I first came. I felt that everything had changed. Life here in Australia is so different. The streets are so quiet I could hardly see anybody. I’ve always liked to live in a crowded city like Shanghai, where I could see people everywhere doing all sorts of activities. Language is probably the biggest problem that I have faced. I couldn’t understand anything in English. School was disastrous, as I was always sitting in the corner waiting for the bell. I remember I always got scared when people talked to me. I felt very lonely in this totally unknown world.

My thought of going back to China started to calm as years went by. I started getting fluent in English, made a lot of friends here. I started to like Australia. Today I love Australia. I want to stay in Australia forever. I’m very used
to the life here and I love it.

My first goal for the future is to get an excellent result in the HSC. Hopefully I could get into Dentistry or Medicine and have success in my future. I think I will have my future life in Australia, and I wouldn’t get used to life in China.

In another email Bob had this to say:

Just to share something with you. I’ve been practicing Wing Chun Kung Fu in Melbourne in the last month, and I founded it very very beneficial. It not only helps my self-defence and fitness, but also increases my physical and mental awareness, reflexes and confidence. Kung Fu is really a beautiful art, practicing it transcends to a higher mental and physical level.

Just in case if you haven’t heard of Wing Chun, it’s a style of Kung Fu derived from the Southern Shaolin Temple. Usually it takes 15 to 20 years to develop an efficient martial artist in Shaolin, which was a rather long time. So some 250 years ago, the 5 grandmasters discussed their techniques, by choosing the most efficient techniques from each style, they formulated the new training program which takes only 5 to 7 years to develop a Kung Fu master. It was named “Wing Chun” and represented “hope for the future”.

Here’s the Philosophy of Wing Chun that I’d like to share with you.

  • One who excels as a warrior does not appear formidable;
  • One who excels in fighting is never aroused in anger;
  • One who excels in defeating his enemy does not join issues;
  • One who excels in employing others humbles himself before them.
  • This is the virtue of non-contention and matching the sublimity of heaven. “The practitioner should meditate on these principles and make peace through the study of Kung Fu – a way of life.”

I found it very rewarding, so I think I’ll continue to train… hope uni work doesn’t prevent me from doing it.

Asian Pride

I have seen such a slogan from time to time. Bob is a good example of healthy pride. As the last letter shows, he is finding much to learn from his Chinese background. At the same time, he is as comfortable as can be with other aspects of Australian society. In him the problem of identity seems to have been solved.

There are some for whom things may not be so harmonious. For them, perhaps, Asian Pride may be in opposition to people or aspects of cultures other than their own, rather than a healthy balance. At extremes it may even become exclusive and racist. I have to say that, even so, Asian Pride is better than Asian Shame!

The rest of us must make sure that no-one is ashamed of who he is. That is the core problem of racism–we build ourselves up at the expense of others, making others feel ashamed or inferior–or angry. This is bad for the community as a whole, as we all have to get along.

That was published in the SBHS newsletter and led to a rather amazing dialogue, too long to paste here: see A debate on race.

Next on Facebook:

Multiculturalism — Student lives

Experiencing cultural change through the eyes of young Australians who have been students of Sydney Boys High. The texts are not corrected, but may be slightly edited. These stories were gathered between 1998 and 2000 as part of my testing of student writing, but parallel stories occur still, over and over again.

Boy aged 12: in Australia 7 years

What happened to me when I was little would take pages to write, so I will just tell you one of the main point when I was little. Our family immigrated to Australia except for my father because he had to work in Hong Kong so we would have money but my father would visit us every 3-4 months and would stay for about a month in Australia. Every time when he leaves Australia I would cry for a very long time.

Now I’m 12 and whenever my father is going back to Hong Kong there isn’t a tear but I feel a bit sad. Also, now I’m 12 I have made it into Sydney Boys High and it is a very good school but I have to wake up very early.

In the future I would like to have a good HSC mark so I can get in to a good university and make alot of money after university. In this piece of paper is all about my life.

Boy aged 12: In Australia 2.5 years

Five years ago, I was a dull boy in China. Everything was just fine. I went to School in the morning and Slept in the evening. When I found out that I was going to Australia I had mixed reactions. My first thought was Yes I finally had my Childhood dream come true to travel in an aeroplane. Also I got to see dad for the first time in my life. When I was only a year old he came to Australia but I thought wait a minute I’m going to have to leave my friend.The thought hit me. I was confused.

Now here I am in Australia. I just got into Sydney Boys High. Our family is now prospering along very well. My study is improving gradually. I really think my future would be fantastic.

Growing up to be an adult is a time of tense learning and important decision-making. In the portion of life that I’ve got left I wish I could receive a worthwhile job and a reasonable pay. I wish to through my work benifit both to community and the country. If I have achieved these things then when I die I will look back and think that was a job well done.

Boy aged 12: in Australia 4 years.

It wasn’t a great year, but that is common in most school years. I think it was then that my parents had the strange notion to emigrate from Israel. I do indeed remember them discussing the move, I remember not being too happy about it at first. I did not want to leave in the least bit because I didn’t want to leave my friends behind, but eventually I realised that it was a wise decision. Approximately then I started watching the news and learnt that a war was raging between Israel and Iraq. And when my father went to serve in the army, as all Israely men have to, I realised that I would nothing more than to leave.

My life now is much better than before, I can state that quite clearly. I have become quite accustomed to the english language and the Australian way of life. It did seem strange to me at first but now I do not mind it. Over the last few years I have made a lot of friends and I consider my life now very good.

In the future my life should improve and I plan on gaining more friends in this new school. I expect succeed in my academics as well as my physical education and sport.

X*** aged 12: In Australia 6 years.

Hello! My name is X*** and I will write in this paragraph about an incident that happened nine years ago. When I was still in Shanghai, something almost fatal happened. It was a hot and stuffy night and some of my grandparent’s friends came. While they were talking, I climbed onto the window sill of a bay window. It was much cooler sitting on the window sill.

What I didn’t know was that the window was opened. So when I rocked a bit too hard, my upper body was dangling out of a 12 storey high apartment! Luckily, my grandmother saw me and grabbed me just before I fell out of the window and made a mess on the road. So, as you can see, I had a very frightening past…

shanghai1

Shanghai 1995

Boy–aged 15–in Australia 3.5 years.

5 years ago I was in Shanghai, China. I went to my local comprehensive primary school which was a alright school. In school learn mainly Math, Chinese and Biology. But we also used to do secoundary subjects like Art & crafts and music. The school was fairly small compared to the Public schools in Australia, but we had fun. In school every subject was very compatative and stressful. In school sport was not one of main componants. Every once in a while we play table tennis or soccer.

… In the next five years I want to go to America and Major in Music and Computer Engineering in “Julian University”. Julian University* I heard was a good school for musicans. might even get a Doctorate in Music. When I’m a bit older, I wish to join the Venia Philharmonic Orchestra. That is my vision of the future. I might even say I might marry a very good looking
super model, but I don’t think that will happen.

He means The Juilliard School.

Blogging the 2010s — 112 — November 2018

This month I ended with a monster post — and you’ll get most of it again today. Because it’s worth it!  And even relevant to the present moment. But first a welcome visit:

Lovely visit last Sunday as November powers on…

Here I am this morning at a seasonally festive City Diggers Club.

WIN_20181121_09_40_08_Pro

My visitor here last Sunday afternoon said I looked furrier than when he had seen me last.

It was great to see Les Farnell again, who called in en route between Canberra and Sydney. His partner was the late Graeme Little, a great man in English teaching circles. Graeme I first met in his capacity as Inspector of Schools back in the early 1970s. My friendship with Les and Graeme dates back to the 1980s.

December 2008 — ten years!

Just a few memories…

Fantastic, but another reason to feel old!

11 DEC 2008

cover_dec08I was skimming the Sydney Morning Herald’s glossy free mag just now, checking out whether I was on the list of Sydney’s Top 100 Influential People… 😉 Many of the usual suspects were there, and quite a few I hadn’t thought of. It is one of those that really attracted my attention.

thumb_jackThere under Community was Jack Manning Bancroft.

Now there was a familiar name: Class of 2002 at SBHS!

So how at the age of 23 did Jack get into the Top 100?

Through this:

Jack is the founder of the AIME Program. He graduated from Media and Communication in 2006, and attended St Pauls College in his time at university. He was awarded the inaugural ANZ Indigenous Scholarship for his degree, and received the Sydney University Union Leadership and Excellence award in 2005. He is a member of the Bundjalung nation in the North Coast of NSW. Jack hopes to lead AIME to every university in the country in the next 5 years.

aime

Click on the screen grab to explore AIME. It is well worth it!

And in 2018: Mentoring — The Key to a Fairer World

Update

I found some blog references to Jack and his work.

Indigenous Literacy Day by Judith Ridge (September 2008) says:

Tonight I went to the launch of Bronwyn Bancroft‘s beautiful new picture book, Possum and Wattle: My Big Book of Australian Words at Gleebooks. The book is, as you would expect if you know Bronwyn’s work, quite stunning. The images are striking and vibrant, and the colour reproduction remarkable. And a great celebration of indigenous Australian language.

Possum and Wattle was launched by Linda Burney, who spoke of of the terrible loss of Aboriginal languages (which she rightly said are, of course, Australian languages) while reminding us that all Australians are in fact speakers of Aboriginal Language. Each time we speak certain place names, or of native flora and fauna, even certain idioms, we are speaking Aboriginal Language.

Bronwyn spoke of the importance of education and literacy, especially for Aboriginal Australians. Her own father was excluded from formal education because of his Aboriginality. Now her children are school and university students and graduates, and she is about to embark on her PhD—just one generation away from that exclusion. And there is no education without literacy…

I also have to mention Bronwyn’s son, Jack Manning Bancroft, who spoke at the launch about the organisation he heads up, AIME Mentoring (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience). AIME pairs Aboriginal university student volunteers with Aboriginal high school students in a one-to-one mentoring project that aims to support young Aboriginal students in education. It was the first I’d heard of the program, and it’s something I want to learn more about. Jack was strong and heartfelt as he spoke about the value of the program, which hinges on the dedication of the current generation of young Aboriginal people to get out there and do something practical to support each other. As it says in the “About” section of their website, AIME is action. Fantastic. (And I am really curious—must ask Bronwyn about this—my grandfather’s middle name was also Manning, after the river/region where he was born. I guess that means Bronwyn’s people come from there, as mine do, although so much more recently.)

A blog called Event Mechanics promotes 2007’s Indigenous Carnivale, and quotes another blog to this effect:

A very cool, and damn motivated and inspiring bloke, called Jack Manning-Bancroft is helping organise the above day. He writes: “We welcome you all to this years Indigenous Carnivale. On Saturday the 26th of May it will be National Sorry Day. We will pay our respects to those who have suffered in the past, we will pay our respects to those who continue to suffer, and we will offer nothing but respect to each other. This is our arena. This is our community. This is our time.”

Running alongside Carnivale is it’s big brother AIME (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience) – where Jack’s helping me to do some mentoring work. It’s a mentoring program that works with High school Indigenous students. All of the profits from Carnivale will go to its big brother AIME.

Such is time… Stream of consciousness, almost…

13 DEC 2008

raleghwBefore his head was removed, Sir Walter Ralegh wrote this magnificent lyric:

Even such is time, that takes in trust
Our youth, our joys, our all we have,
And pays us but with earth and dust ;
Who, in the dark and silent grave,
When we have wandered all our ways,
Shuts up the story of our days ;
But from this earth, this grave, this dust
My God shall raise me up, I trust !

So here am I, not in the Tower of London contemplating execution of course, but in a Surry Hills flat contemplating the $1400 Mister Rudd so thoughtfully placed in my bank account yesterday. (Very handy to cover a couple of debts, and maybe to buy a new pair of boots…) I contemplate also that next year is the fiftieth anniversary of my comparatively undistinguished leave-taking from Sydney Boys High – well I did win a History Prize after all, I suppose.

dec11 010My niece was in contemplative mood a little, I think, in her Christmas letter, which I also received yesterday. Her family has had an eventful year and have done many interesting things, some of them reflecting how The Shire these days reaches out to the world in a way that would have been inconceivable fifty years ago when, as it happens, my niece was born. They are a rather good looking family too, as you may glimpse on the left… The daughter is a promising dancer, I mean seriously promising. Rather proud of them I am, though through circumstances I have seen less of them than I may have done. You may recall we all got together in Julywhen my brother visited from Tasmania.

I can recall having a few “my God! a quarter of a century!” thoughts when I turned 25, and then, as my niece mentions of herself, even greater wonder when I turned 50 – M gave me a magnificent party – and of course this year I went on the pension, which means I am now…

dec11 009And looking back through my bits and pieces (right) I see how quickly the kids I have taught have grown up and made their ways in the world, some of them with great distinction, or making important contributions of one kind or another – one I mentioned just the other day.

I have every confidence in the young.

Now, what kind of boots will I buy? A good choice will last me at least three years, as the last pair has…

In another age of recession Henry Lawson wrote of an even deeper level of misfortune:

When you wear a cloudy collar and a shirt that isn’t white,
And you cannot sleep for thinking how you’ll reach to-morrow night,
You may be a man of sorrows, and on speaking terms with Care,
And as yet be unacquainted with the Demon of Despair;
For I rather think that nothing heaps the trouble on your mind
Like the knowledge that your trousers badly need a patch behind.

I have noticed when misfortune strikes the hero of the play,
That his clothes are worn and tattered in a most unlikely way;
And the gods applaud and cheer him while he whines and loafs around,
And they never seem to notice that his pants are mostly sound;
But, of course, he cannot help it, for our mirth would mock his care,
If the ceiling of his trousers showed the patches of repair.

I am well stocked with pants…

Bonus pic: Surry Hills Christmas

14 DEC 2008

dec14 004

Surry Hills prepares to party

 

Blogging the 2010s — 92 — September 2018

My 19th September as a blogger, and my eighth in Wollongong!  Bit of a Sydney High month…. The following staff directory is from 2002.

Screenshot (188)

Sydney Boys High 1985

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I couldn’t recall Scott Morrison, our PM du jour, from my teaching at Sydney Boys High from late 1985. Still true, but I have found some evidence. Yes, he was a prefect — and the Principal there in the front row had been my Maths teacher in 1958-9.

1985

1985scomo

Why think of this today? Because last night I saw someone I do remember from SBHS 1985, a member of the Year 11 class that became the memorable Class of 1986. I might even suggest this person is rather more interesting than SM, but maybe that would be churlish. It was on last night’s The Drum on ABC News 24.

Host: Julia Baird
Panel: by Brooke Boney, Simon Holmes à Court and Samantha Maiden
Guest: Dr Sacha Molitorisz and Pete Goss
The panel discusses $4.5 billion funding for non-government schools, a no confidence motion against Peter Dutton and Australians losing trust in the government.

Sacha looked rather different in 1985 — but then, so did I! Fascinating research he’s been doing:

My expertise spans ethics, media and law, and my goal is to find answers to the question of how, in a digital age, we can shape a more ethical media landscape. At the Centre for Media Transition at UTS, my research (and teaching) areas include digital privacy and trust in news media. In 2017, I completed a PhD into the ethics of digital privacy; previously, I studied law and English Literature.

Sydney High now… Proud!

While checking the school archives for the previous post, I noted that the 2017 Record was now online. Over 60 years ago I was a student on the Record Committee; happens it was the 75th anniversary of the school. I am now as old as the school was then, a fact I am only just coping with! Last year I posted about my delight in the way the school has progressed in recent years under the watch of Dr Kim Jaggar. This year same again in spades! Get your own copy! A sample:

Screenshot (186)

Now an extract from Dr Jaggar’s 2017 Presentation Night address:

This evening I would again like to share some thoughts with the graduating Year 12 group about the world High alumni are moving into. One doesn’t have to be a Marxist historian to understand, that first social, and then political movements, have their genesis in changes to economic conditions. The globalisation of economic activity made possible by improved transport and the very rapid growth of technology, particularly in data storage and manipulation in devices, from mobile phones to mainframe computers servicing the cloud, has created international winners and losers. In developed countries, the winners are in services industries and those trading in the internet of things, the losers are in manufacturing. The proliferation of robotics in manufacturing has made many jobs redundant. Companies outsourcing and offshoring have benefitted developing economies by relocating labour intensive tasks to where there is cheap labour by global standards. Nowadays, our economic realities are grounded in interdependence and interconnectedness.

There have emerged political movements led by people who purport to represent the interests of those disadvantaged by globalisation – workers in traditional industries like steel making, car manufacturing and whitegoods. Populist leaders champion pushback against the effects of globalisation, appealing to nationalistic sentiment. They argue that the inexorable changes to economic life, occasioned by globalisation, can somehow be stopped, delayed or at least lessened, in their effects on the forgotten workers, who were the backbone of the superseded industrial economy. People who don’t want the world to be the way it is are finding voice through politicians who say they have a solution – they can fix things and bring back the good old days. They scapegoat minorities and play to xenophobic tendencies….

The Trump presidency might prompt a ‘rebirth of freedom’ style backlash, with republican values reinstated: a renewed reverence for truth, a more sober patriotism, leaders more grounded in duty, a renewed respect for law, a greater commitment to tradition, and a deeper knowledge of US history. Alternatively, Trump might become ‘a subject of horrified wonder in our grand-children’s history books’.

Whatever happens in the USA, Australia needs international free trade and open borders. You will be entering the workforce at a time of great uncertainty and heightened tension…

Blogging the 2010s — 77 — August 2013

How time rushes on and all that

I happened upon a newsletter from a school in Sydney’s west and almost fell off my chair when I saw this – suitably adjusted for reasons of privacy.

rabbit13a

rabbit2Yes, that Head Teacher English is none other than The Rabbit! I knew he had taken to teaching like the proverbial duck to water, but HT already! It’s not unprecedented, but it is pretty bloody good I can tell you! So, he is no longer in The Gong.  I just checked: he was contemplating his first posting in April 2006, so 2007 to now is about the size of it. Truly remarkable. Better than I was! Smile

Meanwhile, if you check the August retro series (still ongoing) you may find a mention or two of him.

Looking at the 2006 blog I see this also in April: Looking for the “gay lobby”.  It still holds up, that post, and has a fascinating if sad comment thread. Last night’s episode of Insight on gay marriage did show how the discussion has moved forward in many ways in the past seven years. It was in turns enlightening, frustrating and moving.

JENNY BROCKIE: Tell us why you decided to come on television tonight?

NAM: There’s a lot, it’s very difficult because there’s a lot of stigma, there’s a lot of homophobia, there’s a lot of – it’s not easy to be gay. It’s easier, sometimes it can be easier to just let things slide and try and blend into the background.

JENNY BROCKIE: Were you worried about your family and your extended family’s reaction to doing this tonight?

NAM: I was, apart from my nuclear family which is my parents, my brother, my extended family don’t really know that I’m gay.

JENNY BROCKIE: They probably do now.

NAM: Yes. The, there was a question of conscience for me. Because me being gay, that’s a burden I can bear, but in my cultural context, if I were to announce that I’m gay, then a lot of, there would be a lot of stigma and a lot of, I guess, bad faith or bad will and shame that will be put onto, I guess, my family name. And I worry about how that will affect my parents; I worry about how that will affect my brother. And if it was just me who had to bear the brunt of all that, then I can make those decisions for myself, but it affects more than just me, it affects my brother, it affects my parents and I worry about them.

JENNY BROCKIE: Do you feel that shame?

NAM: I do.

JENNY BROCKIE: Why?

NAM: Because you don’t want to disappoint your parents. You don’t, sorry…

JENNY BROCKIE: Are you okay?

NAM: Mm-mmm. When you grow up your parents do so much for you. My parents were first generation migrants, they had to work really, really hard to look after me and when we grow up we have a formula of okay, you grow up, you study hard, you go to university, if you can, you get a job, you get married, you have children and then the cycle continues. I don’t want to disappoint my parents and the immediate reaction or the immediate instinct of if you’re gay, then you’ve already disappointed them because already you can’t get married and potentially you can’t have children. And in my cultural context, that – there’s no other sort of alternative, or at least there isn’t any other talk about any alternative to that reality…

August retro–16–2008 e

And then there was my English/ESL blog which began at Sydney Boys High. You can see a 2004 remnant here:

engesl04

Those powerpoints are still available!

A Twist In My Story: He Made A Difference

09 AUG 2008

I happened on this while randomly surfing through BlogExplosion. It’s not a total waste of time, you know, as every now and again something of real interest comes along — a whole blog, or a particular post. I mentioned BlogExplosion in Around 500 Education blogs… last year; sadly, since then, the site has had its ups and downs, and this blog is no longer listed there, though two of my personal blogs are.

To the point though. A Twist In My Story: He Made A Difference comes from a 14-years-old named Ben in Malaysia. It’s about his new English teacher.

He at times can feel really low when entering my class because of the response we give him. I understand how it feels but sometimes I too get carried away talking and forget myself. Even though we give him all this crap, he continues teaching us with a whole new style which I find very creative and innovative. And I can proudly say that I have learn new things from him.

His lessons are never boring and doesn’t use the old textbook teaching style which intrigues me greatly. Always teaching with a bang and no two lessons are the same. He teaches us how to speak up, to be attentive, to be considerate, to write a Thesis statement, to respect and believes strongly that respect is earned not given. By not scolding us but teaching us, he wins hearts of students that which even money cannot buy. This is priceless.

Through the past month, I have changed my view on a number of things by his teachings. I have learned that to judge people based on first glance is wrong. Most people judge others in a matter of seconds and though first impressions matter, take time to know more about the person your judging. Even then, who are you to judge them.

I think this too is priceless. :) I really hope his teacher has been able to read it…

Nice one, Ben.

Eddy Avenue, October 2008

Top 100 Language Blogs – Lexiophiles

26 AUG 2008

I can’t say I was displeased when I received an email pointing to Top 100 Language Blogs – Lexiophilesbecause English/ESL has been listed there — at #75. I strongly recommend your browsing the list as some very interesting blogs may be found there.

Now that we have our very own Top 100 Blog List there are bound to be questions and opinions streaming in from all corners of the Internet. This article is a preemptive post to answer what we feel are the two biggest questions. Why we made the list, and how we made the list.

Why did we feel we needed to make a blog list?
The short answer is that we couldn’t find one. We were looking at different language blogs and talking about which our favorites were and why. To make our discussion more colorful we wanted to compare our favorites with a toplist. When we couldn’t find one, at least one that covered our category we decided to make one!

How did we make the list?
We sifted through some 300 blogs relating to language and learning. Each blog was looked over and ranked with a number of points. No system is perfect, but we based our ranking on objective values, which were assigned according to the blog’s content and features.

We identified three main categories: content, consistency and interactivity. We know that no ranking is 100% accurate and always somewhat subjective. Still, we feel that these three categories give a good overall view of how good a blog really is.

Content: No need to explain that the reader appreciates good content. This category took into account what type of content the blog featured. We looked for authored and original content, depth of postings, incorporation of multimedia (such as videos, pictures etc.) and reviews of online tools and websites.

Consistency: A blog is about sharing information in a fast and uncomplicated way. The articles are not like research papers you work months on. People want to read something new every time they visit a blog. Therefore, we looked at if the blog was active, and if so, how active. Frequent postings gave a higher score as well as the regularity of postings.

Interactivity: In our opinion a good blog is not a one-way street but involves the readers as well. The most observable feature is comments, but it doesn’t stop there: Can the user contact the blogger via a contact page, Facebook or similar? Can the user follow the blogger via Twitter or RSS-Feed or share the blog with others via a bookmark button? There are many neat functions that make a blog more interactive.

Thanks, people!

English staff room Sydney Boys High 2008