Category: Sample Responses

Another sample for Whose Reality – using Michael Leunig’s THE LOT

I found this at Enjoy.

Our environment shapes our reality’

The family holidays of my youth have largely molded together in my head. Despite remembering nothing else about it, a clear memory of a trip to Joanna is the birth of a new born calf. As most holidays are a mental montage of theme parks, resort pools, or beach side caravans, baring witness to such a wonderful moment is entirely unique. There it was; defenseless, damp and incapable; the calf lied next to its mother as excited farm hands simultaneously kept us away and ensured we could see. Despite their familiarity with the lifestyle it was clearly a special moment for them. Why then do I remember the moment but not the year? Hell, it took me two goes to remember the exact place! I remember it because of its wonder, its uniqueness, its natural beauty. I am distant from the calf’s rural and raw lifestyle, even on holiday. Michael Leunig would no doubt knock my lack of authentic experience, though perhaps he could acknowledge my appreciation for this moment. He detests the rampant commercialism of modern society. Indeed he celebrates being entranced by the “widely peculiar” sight of foal born during the recent drought. He is right to knock me. Most of my holidays are common, the result of commercial bookings rather than a chance encounter with ugliness in an uncomfortable environment. But in this wiz bang society the package tour is easier than a chance encounter with God’s work. There is still room for the pure moment though. No travel agent could guarantee being able to witness a natural birth. I am glad that I have been reminded of this moment. I have traveled the Great Ocean Road many times but have never been to back to Joanna. Would I appreciate the moment if I saw it every year? Probably not. It has made me realise that these singular moments, often left in my unconscious, are precisely the best kind of memories. They are chance encounters that remind me how wonderful the world is. One trip to Skeene’s Creek on the Great Ocean Road was rudely interrupted when a gale swept through the caravan park sending kids, adults and tents flying down the dirt road. While most braved the night, one simply scooped up the tattered remains of his tent and began the two hour drive back to Melbourne. It has become an iconic camping story in-spite of the plush toilets and availability of electricity. Whenever I stare up at another ridiculous roller coaster, smell chlorine in the pool or notice the trees that have been trimmed to ensure I see the Opera House, I am reminded of these distinctive moments. The natural juxtaposed with the forced reality of a commercial holiday. My favourite moment on the Gold Coast was being caught walking home in what can only be described as a Monsoon (and people say Melbourne’s weather is unpredictable!) So soaked were we that no cab would pick is up, making for a long, damp walk back to the apartment. I could only laugh at the mess as we collapsed when we arrived. Leunig can be cynical of society’s obsession with artificial appearance, false wit and faux personality. He has every reason to smirk at Occupy Melbourne protestors who use iPhones and Twitter to spread their message. But the purity of nature can still be appreciated. As the recent drought and floods have shown, we can wear whatever mask we want, but our environment will always frame our perception. I choose to remember great moments of my holidays, the moments when, like the new born calf, the place allowed me to experience something new and utterly unforgettable.


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?”