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Monthly Archives: August 2007

Teachers: visit India free!

Here is an interesting blog that came my way as it scores a top post on WordPress today.

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My Name is Vivek. I started this blog to discuss my thoughts, primarily and most often, on Education and sometimes on other things that catch my fancy. Since Education is about children and how they relate to each other and to you and me, this blog is also about Life itself.

I had an exciting education myself- studying at the Doon School, under some fantastic teachers and great friends on a large campus that once belonged to the Forest Research Institute of India. It was a fantastic place to grow up, full of stories, activities and great people who lived for the sake of education and schooling.

Click the screen shot to visit.

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Posted by on August 22, 2007 in blogs, for teachers

 

SBHS Trial HSC Paper 1 Question 1

In due course a password protected post will appear here giving detailed comments on the Reading Task question in Paper 1. The password will be available from the English Department.

Meanwhile, good luck.

Update

The comments are available now as a password-protected page.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2007 in HSC, site news

 

Runaway posts!

I just happened to check the 30-day stats on WordPress and was struck by the Trial HSC effect (if that is what it is) on English/ESL. Quite remarkable.

Blog Post or page Visits
English/ESL Studying the Gothic, or Emily Bronte? 590
English/ESL Physical journeys and Peter Skrzynecki’s poems 565
English/ESL Workshop 02 — NSW HSC: Area Study: Imaginative Journeys (page) 358
Big Archive My Blogspot Books and Ideas is no more.. 268
Lines from a Floating Life The connection has timed out — Firefox 239
Big Archive Angelfire site deleted 231
Big Archive About (page) 224
Lines from a Floating Life Miranda asks a question or two on climate change 211
Big Archive Been doing some work here… 186
Big Archive Before Blogspot (page) 186
 
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Posted by on August 15, 2007 in site news

 

From my personal site: The Secret River by Kate Grenville

Substantial additions have been made to this post, thanks to Adrian Phoon. Go to the original post for his comment. See also Just something to think about…, a follow-up post.

 The Secret River by Kate Grenville (2005).  Grenville has also written one of the best books on writing that I know. (Australian historical fiction)

As I said last week:

I mentioned in my comment on Jim Belshaw’s post that I am at last reading The Secret River by Kate Grenville, and I am enjoying it thoroughly. I think this reading is partly responsible for my looking into Macquarie connections to Cleveland House here in Surry Hills, a building I see every day! The site linked to the novel there is Kate Grenville’s own site, thoroughly worth exploring, especially the section on fiction and history. The Secret River (that is, the Hawkesbury) attracted some little controversy on that score, much of it misplaced. But I will take that up when I review the novel. You will see I have already given The Secret River a best read of 2007 tag though.

That still stands, now that I have finished.

The “Secret River” is today a major tourist attraction, and more, just north of Sydney, parts of it indeed inside Greater Sydney.

The climax of the novel is a massacre, and that has been the issue, it seems, that has led to its being caught up in controversy. Given, as the author has clearly stated, that this is a work of fiction, I don’t think it matters whether or not the events described actually took place in the real-world Hawkesbury Valley in the time of Lachlan Macquarie. Such events, however, did happen, and the novel makes a clear case for the way in which even close to such events their reporting could have been spun and muffled, to be forgotten before many years passed. I think the novel quite properly should caution us against the naive belief that written records tell the whole story.

a020561.jpgThe novel began, Kate Grenville tells us, as a work of non-fiction; she is fortunate enough to have a very interesting convict ancestor, Solomon Wiseman, about whom rather more is known and told than is the case with my ancestor Jacob. Some stirring tales appear in The Hawkesbury Historical Society’s pages. Grenville does her subject novelistic justice in that flesh-and-blood characters really emerge in her writing. It is true, nonetheless, that, while true to what we know of Aboriginal life and culture in that time and place, she does fail to render her Indigenous characters quite so fully. Perhaps given the perspective of her narrative this is not possible, but her convicts and emancipists are rendered brilliantly and individually.

The portrait of Wiseman on the right is alluded to in the last chapter of the novel.

I can really believe that (as Aluminium said in a comment here) readers will be drawn by the novel into an enthusiasm for Australian history, and that can’t be a bad thing after all.

Don’t think I am damning with faint praise; I’m not. This is one very fine novel.

See also Kate Grenville: Secret river, secret pastSunday Channel 9 August 7, 2005 and The Convict Trail.

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North of the Hawkesbury region is the Hunter River and Newcastle. The University of Newcastle has a very fine Virtual Sourcebook for Aboriginal Studies in the Hunter Region, well worth examining. To the east of most of the territory covered by Kate Grenville’s novel and reaching down to northern Sydney lay the lands of the Guringai, whose history my nephew, himself a descendant of the Guringai, has explored: see A Guringai Family’s Story: guest entry by Warren Whitfield.

Later

I deliberately minimised controversy in this post. Adrian in his comment noted that and I responded with some reasons. In writing that comment I found Warts and all: on writing “The Secret River” in the University of Sydney News. It is a good article. My reservations about the Aboriginal characters compared to the Europeans are explained there, I think. I could see Grenville had a problem. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2007 in Australian, works/authors, writing

 

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New writing workshop for HSC Module B

I have just worked an essay one of my coachees submitted a week or two ago. It is on Cloudstreet by Tim Winton, a novel many praise. It has even been turned into a noted stage production. “Simply awesome. Cloudstreet is a winner from beginning to end…something native, new, vast and unforgettable.” The Sydney Morning Herald, January 1998.

Not everyone loves the novel, however: see these opinions. One 18-year-old wrote:

Cloudstreet is a luke-warm piece of writing, that is made awful by the fact that Tim Winton thinks that it is a masterpiece. You can practically hear in every line “Oooh look at me, I’m Tim Stinkton. Look how great I am.”

He should have hacked the book in half, punctuated it properly, culled it of all the meaningless ‘symbolism’ and self-indulgent philosophy, and made some attempt at developing the characters.The book has some good moments and it does get better towards the end, but Tim Winton doesn’t realise his limitations and can’t see past himself. Another thing, he threw the ‘fish lamb is the narrator’ thing right at the end, and it shows. The whole book reads like a first draft.

Do you agree?

See the new workshopped essay at Writing Workshop 09: Advanced English Module B “Critical study of a text”.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2007 in Australian, English studies, HSC, questions asked, reading, student help, works/authors, writing

 

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