Sample Language Analysis Response

The following analysis is written on Chris Middendorp’s article “Why should the public fund private schools” found in the Using Language to Persuade Booklet. It’s not perfect, and in some places it is downright ordinary (and it’s not finished), but it gives you a model you can follow. You should be able to use your three highlighters and separate out the What? How? and Why? Hopefully you’ll be able to see that the How? and the Why? intermingle.


Language Analysis

In a recent opinion , “Why should the public fund private schools”, published in ‘The Age’ (7/1/11) Middendorp addresses the ongoing issue of Government funding of private schools. Last year the Government appointed a panel to review the existing funding model that was implemented by the Howard Government in 2001. Middendorp reasonably contends that we should question whether the current model is what best suits the education needs of ordinary Australians.

Middendorp opens his piece by decrying the old-fashioned traditions and values that the private school represented when he attended one 25 years ago. He describes the ethos of the original Australian private schools as being “filched” from an “archaic British” model in order to show that even then our privates school were class-driven, out-dated and irrelevant. His use of the word “emulate” further suggests that our schools were trying to be like a system that had no grounding in the needs of everyday, ordinary Australians. His naming of a school such as “Eton”, a well-known training ground for the royal family, further highlights the distance between private schools and ordinary Australians. Middendorp remembers the negative elements of his schooling, describing it as “stifling” and “hidebound” in order to show again that the schooling model is so steeped in traditions that it lacks relevance to the real-world. He conjures images of teachers who had nothing better to do than “bully their students” in order to show that even the teaching methodologies of these institutions was questionable. Middendorp urges his readers to view the private school model that we used to have, and which have lead to our current crop of private schools, as having no redeeming qualities, and therefore not something worthy of support, especially via the current funding model that the Government uses.

Middendorp in his next argument contends that these schools must have changed, and examines the reasons that private schools are so popular. The image that accompanies Middendorp’s piece supports the argument made by supporters that private school make citizens with ‘values’. We see rows of conscientiously dressed boys, in neat rows, which are politely raising their hands to answer a question. Middendorp looks unfavourably at these values, and suggests that they are “inculcate[d]”, in an attempt to show that they are pressured on to the students, rather than learnt and internalised. He supports this idea by using examples of the “values” private school students hold: “drugs, shoplifting, bullying and violence.” Middendorp uses the idea of values to move into the main contention of this piece, which is the discrepancy between private and public school funding. He becomes critical of the supporters who claim private schools teach values, yet turn a blind eye to the kind of values that would allow such inequality to exist. Middendorp is encouraging his reader to question “values” that private schools convey, and to see that there is little to justify the government’s funding of private schools.

Middendorp becomes indignant as he highlights the inequality that exists between private and public schooling. Middendorp appeals to his reader’s sense of justice by highlighting with easy to understand dollar figures the amount of money that parents must pay to have access to the education offered by private schools. His comparison of the school of his youth with its “grand buildings, landscaped gardens swimming pools and rowing sheds” to the “under-resourced” schools where parents have “to buy school library books and … toilet paper” is an attempt to highlight the vast differences between the two systems, one with “enormous resources” and one which “struggles to find money … [for] repairs” to urge his reader to consider his contention, expressed simply in the question: “[s]hould the government’s job be to perpetuate this disparity?”


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