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English & EAL
October 11, 2018
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As the VCE English exam creeps up on us, many of you will be testing your writing skills under timed conditions (if not, then you better!!!). But, have you sat down under timed conditions for 15 minutes of Reading Time? Have you thought about how to maximise reading time? Many of you may have already figured out how you will approach Reading Time in your exam. Some of you will have a rough idea, while some will pay attention to detail – knowing how to spend each and every minute in that 15 minutes of silence. During Year 12, I was somewhere in between. I knew I didn’t want to waste precious time like others – those who would simply open the exam booklet, check out the three sections, then sit there staring blankly at the clock to tick over to 9:15am (you will definitely see some classmates doing this :’)) Below is a 5x5x5 guideline which, in my opinion, is the most strategic way to maximise every single minute in Reading and Writing Time. Keep reading afterwards for more details!
The best tip I’ve received from a VCAA examiner is: ‘Don’t automatically select the prompt that looks easiest.’
Why? While a prompt may look ‘easier’, it may not necessarily enable you to delve into the text to the best of your ability. It is worth spending a few extra seconds contemplating how you would break down your other available prompts. This is worth doing because sometimes, you actually realise that the prompt which looked ‘harder’ to deal with initially (probably because of some scary-looking keywords), is more suited to you and your ability to respond.
In case you’re wondering, a ‘mental plan’ is my way of saying ‘do a plan in your head’. You should always plan (don’t even get me started if you don’t!). You will most definitely reassure yourself and calm your nerves once you’ve organised your contention(s) in your mind and the examples you want to use. Don’t wait until Writing Time to do this, because you can knuckle out hurdles straight away (especially if it takes you time to come up with ideas and evidence!).
Don’t jump straight into analysing techniques straight away. Reason: This may obscure your interpretation of the contention. The contention is the first thing you need to get right. So sit back, read the article for what it is, and absorb as much of the argument presented to you.
Your second reading should firstly, reinforce your interpretation of the author’s contention, and secondly, involve you identifying language techniques! This should take you right up to the end of Reading Time but even if you still have spare time left, it doesn’t hurt to read the article(s) a third time! The more times you read something, the better your mind will consolidate the cold material in front of you!
Feel free to take on board this guideline or to create your own – at the end of the day, if you have a plan for Reading Time, you’re set!
You've done all that hard work thinking up 'mental plans' during Reading Time, let's put them to paper. Don't skip this step, because you would otherwise have wasted your precious 15 minutes getting ahead. Moreover, it's highly likely you'll forget the points you want to write about if you just store it in your brain. Remember that you are in an adrenaline-driven situation, where nerves can get the better of you. Avoid any mind blanks by guaranteeing yourself success and write the damn plan down!
55 minutes is a good goal because it forces you to get your act together. Aiming for an essay in 60 minutes can often turn into 65 minutes, or even longer. At the very least if you do go over time with a '55 minute per essay' rule, you will put yourself in a position where you can afford to go slightly overtime, and yet still have enough time for other essays.
This is a step that many people skip, but if you're reading this blog - you won't be joining them. A quick review of your work can help you edit errors you didn't notice while writing. As you practise in the lead up to exams, take note of what errors you tend to make when writing. Is it expression, punctuation, or spelling errors? Keep an eye on your most common mistakes when proof-reading to be more a more effective editor. It is these small incremental changes you can make in your essays which add up to make a powerful impact on the final product.
Share this post with your friends and best of luck for your VCE English exam!
Hey guys. So previously I've done a video where I talked about how to write a thousand word, a thousand, a thousand-worded essay, and one hour. And so that segues into this particular video where I'm talking about writing three essays in three hours. So if you haven't watched that video, then I'll pop it up in the comment. I'll pop it up in the card up above. I would recommend you go watch that first before you watch this, because pretty much all of the concepts that I talk about in that video, uh, I just expected details that you should know for this video. So instead of actually breaking down the essays as I did in the previous video, what I'm going to do this time is talk more so about, you know, how to actually write three essays in three hours and just not get burnt out and not die, basically.
Yeah, it's that serious. So I've got a few tips for you guys, but I'll keep this short. First thing is that yes, you do want to practice at least one time writing three essays in three hours. And the reason why I say that is because inevitably there will come times where one essay will kind of overlap into another hour. And you just want to ensure that you can know how to handle those situations when we're practicing in one hour blocks. I think it's fantastic to make sure that we can do that, but then kind of like three hours and three essays is another ballgame altogether. So I would recommend at least practicing once sitting down somewhere and just smashing out the three hours worth of work, just so that you know exactly what it's going to feel like when you go into the exam. Now, most schools will actually offer a, like a mock exam for you to do so that literally could be your one practice that you just need.
But if you were like me, you might want to do it twice. So in your own time, kind of print off your own exam paper and go ahead and just set aside three hours and just do it that way. The second thing is I heavily emphasized doing reading time. So reading time is pretty much your mental thinking game going strong. And this is where a lot of your pre-work will be done before we actually go into the essays themselves. So make sure you practice reading time. It's 15 minutes before the actual exam, but in that 15 minutes, you can plan three of your essays and you can look up in your dictionary, any key words that you might want to define, or you could even look up the dictionary and try to find synonyms for particular keywords. So what I mean by that is when you open up a dictionary and you look up that word inside the dictionary, often the definition for it will have synonyms for it.
So that's like my little hack that I had when I was at school. And then the last thing I would say is just make sure you know what to do if you go over time. So, like I mentioned before, there may be situations where, you know, worst case scenario, you don't finish your essay in time. And that could be because of many reasons. But first thing for you to remember is if you're running over time, sacrifice your conclusion first, do not sacrifice your third body paragraph. I think mostly what happens is students will kind of be somewhere in the third body paragraph for that essay, but rather than skipping that and just do it a little bit of a mess to finish it up and then going into the conclusion, finish off your third body paragraph. And then just forget about the conclusion. The reason why I say that is because a conclusion is basically just the summary of what your entire essay is about.
It's not really supposed to be, to add in any new information where as your third body paragraph. You're still explaining your ideas. You're still elaborating and discussing the prompt itself. So that is way more important to get you the marks that you need than a conclusion. The next thing I would do if you're running behind is save a proofreading until very last. So in the last video I talked about doing proofreading last five minutes of every essay. But if you do not have time for that later, leave all your proofreading until the very end and, and you might find that you only have five minutes, it's true proofread all of your essays, but at least you kind of have that reassurance was that you made yourself more time to write beforehand. And so if you literally find yourself writing right up until the last minute and you can't perforate fine sacrifice that too.
Now last thing is, let's just say that you have sacrificed your conclusion and you're still writing your third body paragraph right up until the very last minute. You still have at least half a paragraph to go, but you know, the first hour is over and you need to move onto your second essay. I feel like you can either approach this two ways. The first way is just finish it off, but then move on to the next one as quick as possible. And obviously your hope there is that you will finish the second essay in time within that hour. So that by the time you get to your thing, essay, you are on track again. Right? But in the other alternative that you could do, and probably one that I via towards a little bit more is just stop your third paragraph. Okay? You still have maybe five more sentences you still want to write, but just move onto your next one. I think that's kind of important because what happens is once we start running into the next hour, you will find that with your first essay, you'll run maybe five minutes into your second hour, but then you might find that you run 10 minutes into the third hour with your second essay leaving only 15 minutes to finish your third essay. And that might not be like what you want. And you might know that you just won't be able to achieve that because the third essay is maybe the hardest one that you left to last. And that's the one that usually takes you the longest. So yeah, like these are just thoughts and considerations for you guys to take away with whatever you guys do. I think just be strategic. Think about these things beforehand, because they are things that could trip you up when you are in the exam, you're stressed, you're anxious, you're under time pressure and you just need to get things done.
It might kind of make you do like bad decisions or you might do something out of the ordinary that you normally wouldn't do. But if you think about these things beforehand and think about, okay, this is what I'm going to do. If this situation occurs, then at least you kind of have some control over what's happening. And that gives you a little bit of reassurance. That is it from me. I wanted to let you guys know that because we are approaching the end of year. And I know that you guys might not need English help from me very shortly, especially when you're in year 12. I wanted to let you guys know that I do have a personal YouTube channel as well. So that's just linked up above for you. And also in the description box below. If you're interested in following me there, then go ahead and subscribe. I would really love to see you guys there and just be able to still have the connection with you guys. You know, it'd be nice to not only just have you guys on board with me for a year, and then you guys kind of disappear and do your own thing, I'd still really love to stay in contact and be able to hear how you guys are going to once you finish school. So I will see you guys next time. Bye!
Once you have finished all your Literature SACs for the year, all that is left is a 2 hour and 15 minute exam that will play a major part in determining your end of year study score. It seems extremely daunting, and because many of the SACs differ from the exam task, you may be feeling a bit nervous or confused about what exactly the exam entails.
In describing the task, the exam paper states:
For each of your selected texts, you must use one or more of the passages as the basis for a discussion of that text.
In your pieces of writing, refer in detail to the passage or passages and the texts. You may include minor references to other texts.
Therefore, you must write two close analysis pieces on the exam, one on each of your chosen texts. You must use the three passages included on the exam to explore and analyse the text as a whole. Most of your piece should be analysis of what is in front of you in the exam, but you must also use evidence from outside the passages, to demonstrate your knowledge and connection with the text.
The exam will be marked against a criterion that differs from any of your SACs (although it is quite similar to your close analysis SAC). Therefore it is imperative to understand the criteria you will be marked on before beginning to study for the Literature exam, and especially before you try some practice exams. They are as follows, and can be found on the VCAA Literature exam page.
Understanding of the text demonstrated in a relevant and plausible interpretation
This criteria relates to your ability to show your comprehension of the text. The examiner will be noting whether the concepts, ideas and themes in the text are understood. They will assess your interpretation of the text, and whether it is relevant and fair in relation to the meaning in the text
Ability to write expressively and coherently to present an interpretation
Literature is a writing subject, therefore this criteria asks that you write with fluency, an expressive vocabulary and clarity. Your piece must also be a coherent, unified work that clearly articulates your discussion and interpretation of the passages and text as a whole. This criteria can also relate to your use of grammar, punctuation and spelling as the clarity of your piece can be threatened if these are not used correctly.
Understanding of how views and values may be suggested in the text
You must demonstrate an ability to identify, discuss and analyze the views and values within the text. You must be able to support your discussion with evidence from the text
Analysis of how key passages and/or moments in the text contribute to an interpretation
Your ability to analyse the three passages, as well as the text as a whole, and draw an interpretation from them. Examiners will be looking to see that you can use set material and the whole text as a basis for discussion.
Analysis of the features of a text and how they contribute to an interpretation
This criteria determines that you must identify factors including metalanguage, specific language and authorial techniques, and discuss how they create meaning. Remember that this is literature, so discussing the different elements used to construct a text (character, plot, setting, motifs, symbols” is imperative.
Analysis and close reading of textual details to support a coherent and detailed interpretation of the text
This criteria determines that you need to use evidence from the text (including quotes) in order to aid a logical and comprehensive interpretation of the text. Examiners will be looking at your ability to look deeply into smaller authorial choices, and how they create meaning.
Best of luck!
Don't forget to also check out Our Ultimate Guide to Oral Presentations for everything you need to know for Oral Presentations.
Since September 2014, the current affairs has been raging with numerous controversial topics – perfect for your oral presentation! Here are some of the more interesting issues that would be a good starting point for your oral. Remember to offer an interesting and unique argument, even if it may mean adopting the unconventional or unpopular point of view on the issue!
The following is a snippet from my study guide, How To Write A Killer Oral Presentation. It's filled with unique advice that takes you from start to finish in mimicking the techniques used by a perfect-scorer VCE Year 12 student. You may want to start off reading Our Ultimate Guide to Oral Presentations and come back to this blog if you haven't already!
This blog covers the first step within Pillar 2: Writing The ‘This Is-Going-To-Blow-You-Away’ Speech. Once you've chosen an interesting topic and have researched all of its different viewpoints, it's time to formulate your contention. Often, creating a killer contention is about avoiding some common traps that will make your overall presentation boring, bland and just like the rest of your cohorts'.
So, I like to avoid:
If you think your contention is, ‘abortion in Australia’ then you’re wrong. This is simply not a contention! A contention is an opinion. The example, ‘abortion in Australia’ offers no insight into your opinion on the issue at all. Instead, ‘We need to consider women’s mental health when judging their decision on abortion’ is an opinion.
Let’s say we use the issue of ‘homelessness in Australia’. Arguing ‘homelessness in Australia is a problem’ or ‘we need to fix the homelessness issue in Australia’ just isn’t going to cut it because you’d never argue the opposite, ‘homelessness is great’. There are no differing viewpoints against your contention which means that you have nothing to argue against.
You need to be more specific with your issue - that’s why you looked up all those viewpoints in your research. For example, you could contend, ‘We need to fix the problems in homes in order to fix Australia’s homeless issue.’ This does has varied viewpoints because someone else’s solution could be to give homeless people greater access to help.
TEST: Before you move on to writing structure, ask yourself, can people argue against my contention? If yes, proceed ahead! If no, you’ll need to revise your contention again. Do this over and over until you can confidently answer ‘yes’ to the above question.
When climate change first came onto the radar, the main debate was whether it was a real or a conspiracy theory. These discussions were in full force over 5+ years ago. These days (with the exception of climate change skeptics of course), discussion on climate change revolves more heavily around the slow pace of policy implementation, intergenerational effects of climate change, and mental health surrounding climate change.
Rather than arguing, ‘Climate change is real?’ (which your teacher has probably listened to a dozen times), you’re better suited to argue ‘Young people, not governments, should lead the fight against climate change’. Not only does this tie into the LSG belief that you should be more specific with your issue, it’ll also mean that your contention is relevant to today.
Now it's your turn. Give it a go! You might need to take a few tries to get your contention right, and that's absolutely OK.
If even after that you’re still unsure about your contention, make it a priority to speak to your teacher about it. Ask them if they could review your proposed contention and offer you any constructive feedback. Heck, even if you are confident with your contention, I’d ask your teacher anyway for any insight you mightn’t have thought of.
Wondering where to go from here? Well, luckily, my eBook, How To Write A Killer Oral Presentation, details my exact step-by-step process so you can get that A+ in your SAC this year.
Sounds like something that'd help you? I think so too! Access the full eBook by clicking here!
You can find the VCAA exam 2009 here.
Have a go at analysing it yourself first, then see how I've interpreted the article below! For a detailed guide on Language Analysis including how to prepare for your SAC and exam, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Language Analysis.
Type of article: Opinion piece
Publisher: Clt Alt
Date of publication: 23rd of May, 2009
Contention: We should embrace the digital technology as it has, and will continue to revolutionise our lives in regards to intelligence, convenience, communication and more.
Number of article(s): 1
Number of image(s): 1 (not disclosed on VCAA website due to copyright laws)
Source: VCAA website
Note: Persuasive techniques can be interpreted in many ways. The examples given below are not the single correct answer. Only a selected number of persuasive techniques have been identified in this guide.
Persuasive technique: Imagery
Example: ‘Keyed In’
Analysis: The term ‘keyed in’ depicts an image of keys on a laptop or computer – one of the important inventions in regards to digital technology as well as the idea that those who are ‘keyed in’ are ‘up-to-date’ with its progression. This invites support from the reader since it is desirable to be ‘up-to-speed’ with the latest developments and trends – especially since new technology allows such accessibility.
Persuasive technique: Type of publication
Example: Online journal
Analysis: By publishing the article on an online platform, Voxi aims to target ‘tech-savvy’ readers who are more inclined to appreciate technology than those who read other publication avenues such as newspapers.
Persuasive technique: Acknowledging the opposition
Example: ‘Some people are naturally afraid of the new, challenged by the discomfort of being dislodged from the known, the safe, the predictable, the tried and the tested – in short, their comfort zone.’
Analysis: Voxi invites readers to view him as someone who is considerate and rational by displaying an understanding front towards those opposed to the use of technology, ‘some people are naturally afraid of the new.’
Example: ‘…maybe they have a point – sometimes it’s good to take time out and just enjoy what you’ve got.’
Analysis: Through admitting that perhaps those opposed to the development of technology may ‘have a point’, Voxi aims to manipulate readers into trusting him since he appears genuine and fair towards the issue.
Persuasive technique:Positioning advocators in a positive light
Example: ‘They see possibilities for making things better where other people want to chill, just responding to the pleasure of the moment.’
Analysis: By positioning technology advocates as people who ‘see possibilities for making things better,’ Voxi attempts to coax readers into support since readers tend to respect and admire those who take action, rather than someone who is static and merely wants to ‘chill.’
Persuasive technique: Characterisation of supporters as heroes
Example: ‘History’s full of moments though, when human beings have been moved forward by people who have been like the grit in an oyster. Gritty people produce pearls.’
Analysis: Though the characterisation of technology advocators as ‘gritty people,’ Voxi urges readers to view those people with admiration as their determination and dedication has lead to the ‘produc[tion of] pearls’ or in other words, valuable inventions.
Persuasive technique: Colloquial Language
Example: ‘Well, sort of.’
Analysis: The use of colloquial language, ‘well, sort of,’ is intended to position Voxi as a someone who appears to be a ‘friend’ as he attempts to display a light conversational tone. As a result, readers may be more inclined to support his opinion since they are more likely to listen to a ‘friend’ than a formal authority figure.
Persuasive technique: Characterisation of advocates as hard workers
Example: They’re the ones who ask questions, who tinker away in the garage, who turn up on ‘The Inventors.’
Analysis: By characterising advocates of technology as hard-working, ‘tinker[ing] away in the garage’, , Voxi relies on the readers’ compassion to embrace modern technology as it is clear that much effort and time has been placed in these inventions and therefore shouldn’t be immediately disregarded.
Persuasive technique: Appeal to a sense of failure
Example: ‘In our lifetime we haven’t had a Copernicus or Galileo reorganising the cosmos, or a Darwin challenging us with a radically new theory of evolution.’
Analysis: Voxi tries to influence readers to step up to past generations’ successes such as ‘Copernicus [and] Galileo reorganising the cosmos, or a Darwin challenging us with a radically new theory of evolution’ through the depiction that the current population has failed to produce any great intellectuals.
Persuasive technique: Repetition
Analysis: The repeated word ‘revolutionise’ is an attempt to instill into readers’ minds that there is a dramatic change currently occurring in society and as a result, they should try to keep ‘up to date’ with ‘the new world’.
Persuasive technique: Rhetorical question
Example: ‘Why wouldn’t you want it in your life?’
Analysis: The rhetorical question, ‘why wouldn’t you want it in your life?’ urges readers’ support since it is apparent that there is no reason why people should not accept technology, especially since in the future, readers will be able to ‘lead happy, safe and fulfilling lives in a free and peaceful world’ – something that would result in satisfaction.
Persuasive technique: Appeal to a sense of youth
Example: ‘It’s older people who are less familiar with it who are suspicious about it, or even
Analysis: By creating a dichotomy between the ‘older people’ and the younger generation, Voxi aims to manipulate readers into believing that only the elderly are ‘suspicious…or even afraid’ of technology, whereas all other generations should have no issues and welcome the ‘digital world’ with open arms.
Persuasive technique: Reference to modern activities
Example: ‘Global shopping, online banking, working out the itinerary for your holiday, looking up Google Maps and Street View to check out where your friends live, and that’s not to mention Facebook.’
Analysis: Through referencing to everyday, modern activities such as : ‘Global shopping…looking up Google Maps and Street View…not to mention Facebook’, readers may be compelled to join the population in using technology since they are aware that many people do find these digital advances convenient and applicable to their daily lives.
Persuasive technique: Use of logic and reasoning
Example: ‘Sure, some people stress about privacy issues, but these can be resolved. Google is not allowed to ﬁlm defence sites from Google cars and Google bikes. Let’s face it, the pictures we see are not real-time images. You can protest about them anyway and get them removed or pixellated if you’re really worried.’
Analysis: Readers are encouraged to support Voxi’s stance since his use of logic, ‘you can protest about them anyway’ and reason, ‘let’s face it, the pictures we see are not real-time images’ makes clear that ‘privacy issues’ is not a valid point to denounce technology.
Persuasive technique: Humourous tone
Example: ‘Besides, the hot air balloon people are always hovering over my back yard and looking into my windows too.’
Analysis: Through adopting a humourous tone in pointing out the irony of people’s concerns about ‘privacy issues’ when ‘hot air balloon people are always hovering over my back yard and looking into my windows too,’ Voxi attempts to assure readers that online privacy is no less risky than their privacy at home.
Persuasive technique: Appeal to convenience
Example: ‘Why go to a library when you can sit at your desk and look up Wikipedia or Google Scholar, or Ask Jeeves?’
Analysis: Through posing the rhetorical question, ‘Why go to a library when you can sit at your desk and look up Wikipedia or Google Scholar, or Ask Jeeves?’, Voxi appeals to readers’ sense of convenience since the benefits of merely ‘sitting’ at home clearly outweighs the effort of travelling to a library.
Persuasive technique: Inclusive language
Example: ‘Let’s be excited – keep being excited.’
Analysis: The incorporation of inclusive language, ‘let’s’ urges readers to feel as though they are directly part of the issue or somehow responsible for the outcome and thus, may lead readers to become advocators of technology.
Persuasive technique: Juxtaposition
Example: ‘We’d still be swinging in the trees or huddling in caves if we’d taken the view that new things are harmful or dangerous or unpredictable.’
Analysis: Through the juxtaposition of current society and history when ‘we…sw[u]ng in the trees or huddl[ed] in caves’, Voxi intends to demonstrate that without taking some risks and disregarding that ‘new things are harmful or dangerous or unpredictable’, society would not have come as far as it has now, and thus, readers should continue to push forward with the new digital age.
Don't forget to also check out Our Ultimate Guide to Oral Presentations for everything you need to know for Oral Presentations.
Here are over 20 Oral Presentation Ideas for you if you're presenting a speech on Australian issues in the media.
It’s that time of year again when many VCE English students start brainstorming their Oral Presentation SACs. To help you out, we’ve collated some of the biggest names and issues in the recent Australian media.
Each heading represents a broad, ongoing issue, and under it are more specific debates within each issue. Going down a more precise route with your topic selection can make your speech a lot more engaging and current, so pick a broad issue that speaks to you, and ‘zoom in’ on a debate for your speech. Don't forget to also check out Our Ultimate Guide to Oral Presentations for everything you need to know for Oral Presentations.
Originally, the 'New Deal' was a bunch of economic reforms that restimulated the economy back into action after the Great Depression. The 'Green New Deal' is a bunch of policies that combines this economic approach with the need to fight the climate crisis. It was first brought before the United States Congress by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in late 2018, but was ultimately voted down. It called for a 10-year transformation of the economy to provide green jobs; transition to renewable, zero-emission energy sources; and eliminate pollution across sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture and transport.
Is this something that we need to adopt in Australia? Is now the best time for that conversation, given the political climate (not to mention the actual climate of the worst bushfire season in history)? And what exactly are the options?
Australia Needs a Green New Deal (03/11/2019)
What could an Australian green new deal look like? (28/11/2019)
Why the Green New Deal matters (29/11/2019)
Let’s make the 2020s the decade that Australia gets its mojo back (04/01/2020)
2019 saw the emergence of the 'school strike for climate', an international movement of students skipping school to demonstrate and demand action on climate change. It took off after Greta Thunberg, a Swedish schoolgirl, began protesting outside the Swedish parliament in late 2018.
It sparked widespread discussion on young people, education and the merits of striking. Scott Morrison was drawn into the discussion, stating that he doesn’t 'want our children to have anxieties about these issues', while defending his government’s track record on renewable energy investment.
So - should young people be worrying about these issues at all? Are they missing out on crucial years of education by taking to the streets? And, is what they’re saying really unreasonable at all?
Global climate strike sees ‘hundreds of thousands’ of Australians rally (video, 0/09/2019)
The climate strike organiser who received a near-perfect ATAR (18/12/2019)
How Greta Thunberg’s school strike went global: a look back (podcast, 30/12/2019)
Australia is already facing its most severe bushfire season yet with several months of fire season left to go. During these months, Scott Morrison took a holiday in Hawaii, staying there even after stating his intention to return. Even as he returned, he was shunned for perceived insensitivity and insincerity.
What should a Prime Minister do in a state of national emergency? While Morrison delegated many of the duties to state premiers, are these distinctions important in times of crisis? Is he the leader we deserve after his resounding, miraculous election victory in 2019? Where to from here?
ScoMo, Where the Bloody Hell Are You? (20/12/2019)
Don’t dismiss our anger in Cobargo Scott Morrison, we are the ones living through a crisis (02/01/2020)
Scott Morrison, Australia’s singed prime minister (03/01/2020)
‘Bloodcurdling insanity’: Real reason ScoMo is under fire (04/01/2020)
An ETS basically makes carbon gas emissions an economic good that gets bought and sold like any other - corporations that emit more gas will need to now purchase permission to emit, while corporations that emit less will be able to sell their permits. The debate for an ETS in Australia is old (surprisingly perhaps, John Howard first broached the idea towards the end of his Prime Ministership), but became political poison after Julia Gillard introduced it despite promising that her government wouldn’t introduce a carbon tax in the 2010 election. It has since been scrapped, making Australia the only government in the world to ever dismantle an operational ETS.
A decade later, is it now the right time to revisit this discussion? Just why are so many people opposed to policy that would stop corporations from emitting for free? And what does this mean for our international reputation and commitments?
One of the world’s biggest emitters is trying to fly under the radar at Cop25 (06/12/2019)
For 10 Years, Australia Has Been In A Climate-Policy Abyss (07/12/2019)
‘Not moving fast enough’: former head of Scott Morrison’s department criticises climate change policies (18/12/2019)
So this is nothing particularly new, but it’s unfortunately still present even as we move into 2020. Should sports stars be penalised for their opinions when they’re exclusionary and harmful, or should we respect them for their sporting prowess? Maybe this speaks more broadly to the standards we expect sporting stars or public figures in general to set as role models…
Israel Folau: Australian rugby star condemned for linking bushfires to ‘sinful’ homosexuality (18/11/2019)
Marcus Stoinis fined $7,500 for homophobic slur during Big Bash League (04/01/2020)
Bear with me on this one - while she isn’t specifically a ‘social equity’ debate, Lizzo’s emergence as a breakout singer of 2019 intersects with a lot of social equity movements, from body positivity and feminism to racial justice and self-empowerment. Her upcoming shows in Australia sold out in minutes, which speaks to her newfound popularity as a global star.
What is it about Lizzo that resonates with so many people? What and who does she represent? Is the new decade also a watershed moment for diversity in entertainment?
Lizzo taps into the real meaning of freedom in 2019 (07/10/2019)
Lizzo, pop’s reigning phenomenon, brings her juice to Australia (05/01/2020)
Again, this one isn’t too new, but a fresh wave of activism for equal pay in sport was sparked this year by Megan Rapinoe, the captain of the US women’s national soccer team (which won the World Cup in 2019). She, her team and the men’s team sued the national soccer federation for gender discrimination and other countries, Australia included, followed suit.
Why does the wage gap exist and what are the reasons for closing it? Is a preference for the men’s game enough to justify paying women less (despite the fact that preferences like this are usually rooted in misogyny and are subjective anyway)? And how does this translate between different sports such as soccer, AFLW and tennis (where Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic have clashed over this before)?
AFLW pay dispute is over (28/10/2019)
Matildas become first women’s team in world football to be paid the same as men’s team (video, 05/11/2019)
Australia’s women footballers get equal pay in landmark deal (06/11/2019)
‘We Have To Be Better’: Megan Rapinoe and the Year of Victory and Advocacy (18/12/2019)
Newstart is Australia’s income support for those aged 22 to 64 who are unemployed. Though a form of social security, it’s fallen behind in terms of how much economic security it can provide recently, with years of no real increases (that is, increases which offset inflation - basically things are getting more expensive and even if Newstart increases, it doesn’t give you more purchasing power in reality).
Is it finally time to increase Newstart? There was some discussion around the holiday season being particularly expensive, but should an increase be permanent? How hard is it to get a job in today’s economy? And are the payments enough to live on if you can’t find a job?
Morrison government defends Newstart amid criticism it is among lowest welfare payments in OECD (08/10/2019)
Report highlights social crisis confronting Australian youth on welfare (14/12/2019)
Survey finds two-thirds of Australians back a Newstart Christmas boost (22/12/2019)
The economic case for increasing Newstart (01/01/2020)
'Voice' was the Australian National Dictionary Centre’s word of the year in 2019, in the context of Indigenous representation in the Australian parliament. A Voice to Parliament would enshrine Indigenous input into laws and policies on issues affecting First Nations communities, and has been called for by activists for some time now.
How does this tie into/is this distinct from other issues such as constitutional recognition? Why haven’t we seen a lot of progress or consensus on these issues? And what might it mean for those communities to be able to make autonomous decisions?
There’s a 60,000-Year-Old Way to Help Stop Australia Burning (16/12/2019)
‘I feel unchained’: Mauboy adds her voice to Indigenous recognition campaign (29/12/2019)
The Voice to Parliament isn’t a new idea – Indigenous activists called for it nearly a century ago (02/01/2020)
‘It can be more controversial’: Costello warns on constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians (02/01/2020)
Australian teachers have been struggling with increasingly difficult jobs and flat-lining pay in recent years, and teachers’ unions haven’t been able to successfully find a solution to offset these concerns. Tertiary students are now turning away from pursuing a career in education, and there could be many reasons as to why.
What does this mean for the future of Australian education? In what ways do you as a student feel the impacts? And what could be some solutions - perhaps both from a teacher’s point of view, but also from a student-centric viewpoint?
Three charts on teachers’ pay in Australia: it starts out OK, but goes downhill pretty quickly (02/09/2019)
The epic failure at the root of Australia’s maths problem (06/12/2019)
Why male teachers are disappearing from Australian schools (12/12/2019)
A new voice for class teachers (30/12/2019)
Unfortunately, Australian students have been falling behind many of their global counterparts in terms of educational outcomes - we even hit our worst ever results in the OECD’s international student assessment in 2018.
What does this mean in an increasingly globalised world and is there a way to turn this around? How might a student perspective on this be unique from that of a politician for example, or another stakeholder? And is education an isolated issue, or should we be looking at more holistic solutions that incorporate health-related, economic and/or social solutions as well?
Murri School students experience social and emotional benefits from six-day nature camp (13/10/2019 - a bit of a reach, but an interesting read about education outside of the traditional classroom)
No need to panic – we can fix Australian schools. But to rush the reform is to ruin it (08/12/2019)
Coalition to review Australian education curriculum in bid to reverse fall in student results (11/12/2019)
Aboriginal English recognition in schools critical for improving student outcomes for Indigenous Australians (21/12/2019)
We love to criticise the United States, but guess what? Their public schools are better than ours (04/01/2019)
This is another one of those long-running debates, though it’s on the table again as the ACT has recently legalised recreational cannabis. This goes against federal law, which still bans the possession and use of weed, and makes Canberra the first Australian jurisdiction to decriminalise it. Canberra has also led the way on issues such as same-sex marriage, legalising it as early as 2013 (four years before the rest of the nation would follow suit).
Discussion about other drugs such as ecstasy has also been raised as a result, and this piece might be an interesting read on why different drugs have different legal statuses.
Still, is legalising pot the way to go considering how other Western democracies are already moving in this direction? Is it even a harmful drug at all? And what about the others, such as ecstasy? Or even alcohol, for that matter?
Nation’s capital legalises cannabis for personal use (25/09/2019)
Peter Dutton: government may overturn ‘dangerous’ ACT decision to legalise cannabis (25/09/2019)
Australia could be the first country to legalise ecstasy – are we going too far? (03/10/2019)
Canberra women with endometriosis are self-medicating with cannabis, but legalising the drug might not help (28/12/2019)
This is an interesting and pretty recent phenomenon - climate grief or climate burnout are new terms that have come into existence to describe the mental health impacts of the climate crisis. In particular, they describe the frustration and despair that people may feel as a result, given that progress on reducing carbon emissions is frighteningly slow and natural disasters are becoming more frequent and devastating at the same time.
What is your take on it and who’s feeling it? Do you have to be affected by disasters, or can it also affect young people who feel pessimistic about the future of the planet? And what could be some strategies for overcoming it? What is the importance of seeing climate through a health lens and how might it inspire activism or change?
Australian Farmers Muddled in Mental Health Crisis (26/09/2019 - a good read on how climate issues intersect with economic issues as well)
Australian town breaks record for mental health awareness following devastating flood (16/12/2019)
Australian bushfires could lead to a mental health crisis, expert warns (03/01/2020)
2019 saw some other new developments in the conversation around mental health in Australia. A report found that mental health concerns are getting more widespread among young people, while government investment doesn’t really seem to be effective.
Meanwhile, we’re also seeing progress on destigmatising mental health issues within sport - overseas, athletes such as Paul Merson and Stan Collymore have shared stories of their battles, while Cricket Australia looks into ways of creating more supportive environments for their players.
How can we streamline the message around mental health, or the relevant support networks? What solutions haven’t we tried yet, and how might the discussion around this shift in the next decade? What are the implications if we don’t address these issues?
Note that this can be a sensitive issue which may cause distress to some people.
Mental health issues increasing among Australians (30/09/2019)
Push to get wellbeing counsellors into schools as mental health bill costs Australia billions (31/10/2019)
What’s driving poor mental health among young Australians? We asked them (20/11/2019)
Kevin Roberts: Cricket Australia committed to better understanding mental health (14/12/2019)
People with mental illness less likely to get cancer screening (03/01/2020)
NSW recently legalised abortions for pregnancies shorter than 22 weeks after one of the longest debates in their state Upper House. While the choice versus life debate has raged around the world for decades now (i.e. maybe don’t do a pro-choice speech that people will have heard before, and probably don’t do a pro-life speech in 2020), what is the landscape of the debate like in our day and age?
Who opposes it and why? What is the problem with making health issues criminal issues instead (e.g. drug policy as well)? And what other issues might be linked to this? Can someone who is pro-life also support tougher border restrictions that lead to refugee deaths at sea, for example?
Note that this can be a sensitive issue which may cause distress to some people.
Why NSW is still fighting about abortion (17/09/2019)
Controversial abortion bill passes NSW Upper House after long-haul debate (25/09/2019)
Abortion Is Now Legal in NSW After Controversial Bill Passes Lower House (26/09/2019)
NSW abortion law: doctors say last-minute changes ‘unnecessary’ but manageable (26/09/2019)
Wondering where to go from here? Well, luckily, my eBook, How To Write A Killer Oral Presentation, details my exact step-by-step process so you can get that A+ in your SAC this year.
Sounds like something that'd help you? I think so too! Access the full eBook by clicking here!
Most people only think about EXECUTING their essay - the writing. Whether that be essay structure, memorising quotes or how to avoid repeating yourself in the dreaded conclusion. However, my strategy places emphasis on the THINK.
THINK is the brainstorm, exploration, and development of ideas. Get this right, and you'll come up with ideas and a response that pushes you ahead of your peers. The EXECUTION comes next, only strengthening your lead to the finish line.
So what does THINK actually involve? 🤔
You need to consider aspects of an essay topic that most students gloss over, including:
Knowing the essay topic type will change your essay structure. While you might wish for a one-size-fits-all essay structure, this is a limited viewpoint that stops you from reaching your potential. Different essay types include:
By understand what's required in each one of these essay topic types, you'll have a template you can follow to ensure that you answer the prompt (no more complaints from your teacher complaining that you're going off topic!).
Never heard of this term previously? That's because majority of teachers don't teach you to change your Text Response according to the question tag. A 'do you agree?' essay topic expects a different response from a 'discuss' essay topic.
This is important so you don't go off topic (we've all at least experienced this once in our high school writing careers 😥). Sometimes, one missed keyword is all it takes to derail your entire essay. No matter how well you've written your essay, an essay that doesn't answer the prompt won't fare well.
For example, have a think about which keywords can be found in this essay topic "Jeff's attempt to pursue justice are entirely without honour. To what extent is this true?".
For me, the keywords include:
- 'Pursue justice'
- 'To what extent is this true?'
Even though I've labelled almost every word in the essay topic, individually, each of these keywords will shape my response. Majority of students will pick up the necessity to discuss the keyword 'entirely' in their essays. They will potentially argue that Jeff's attempt isn't entirely without honour, and mention instances where honour was shown. However, a less obvious keyword that needs further exploration is 'justice'. Most students will take this word for granted, and won't really explore what the word 'justice' means in this sentence. A more advanced student will understand that 'justice' in this essay topic is viewed from Jeff's perspective, meaning that what Jeff deems to be 'justice', might not be the same 'justice' for a viewer. These are the nuances in an essay topic that I'd like you to be very confident in.
Knowing how to THINK will ensure that you EXECUTE your essay writing most effectively, optimising your potential to nail that A+. If I went from average to consistent A+s in Year 11 and Year 12, I have no doubt you can do it too. That's why I created the How To Write a Killer Text Response ebook.
I know that you are probably like I was, searching for a clear, simple way to get better at English without just relying on my teacher (despite the fact that I had a great teacher!). I've compiled my 10 years of tutoring English, refining this strategy year after year. With this knowledge, many of my students achieved a study score they thought was impossible (one student Ruby, wanted a study score of 30 to get into her university course, and ultimately achieved a 40 study score! WOW! 😮).
If you're interested, How To Write a Killer Text Response ebook shows you the inner workings of my brain 💭- what I think when I see an essay topic, how I tackle it, and how I turn these thoughts into a high-scoring essay. The ebook includes:
- 50-pages teaching you how to respond to ANY essay topic
- Examples from 15+ popular VCE English texts
- Know exactly what to THINK about so you can formulate the best possible essay response
- Plus a bonus 20-pages of high vs low scoring essays, fully annotated (what works and what doesn't) so you know exactly what you need to do and what not to do
Power-up your learning with free essay topics, downloadable word banks, and updates on the latest VCE strategies.
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