Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Change (with other resources)

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To whom it may concern,

I have just become aware of the Boards decision to discontinue using ‘Change’ as the Area of Study for the H.S.C. in 004. As a student who has been studying ‘Change’ as my current Area of Study I believe that the students in future years would be disadvantaged by not studying Change for their HSC. This disadvantage wouldn’t just be for the HSC, but in life as well, as studying change has broadened my perspectives and enabled me to understand a lot more about what goes on around me.

As I have learnt, change is a process of being made different, altered in appearance, turned into something or someone else. ‘Changing’ suggests that change is a process, a transition, the passage from one position, state or stage to another. Change has two states, before and after, and is separated by what is undergone or experienced in order to bring about the change.

Although all aspects of change are interrelated, changing self, the area I studied, looks more at self-discovery. Factors affecting this could include things like age, beliefs, roles, occupation, responsibilities and your outlook on life, yourself, others etc. These factors can lead to changes in self-concept, self-esteem, emotional health, social acceptance, morals and how you make decisions for yourself.

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Looking at this area of change gave me more of an insight that embracing and not resisting change is rewarding. I also learnt that you have to take action fir change to occur and not just wait for it to come to you. These ideas were shown to me through the texts that I studied and I think they are very useful to teenagers as they are facing a lot of changes at this time in their life that they have to embrace and even take action, like Sally shows in ‘My Place’.

My Place by Sally Morgan is an excellent resource on change. It is an autobiography not only of one person, but also of three others, and she shows change in relation to all of them; Sally; Gladys; Daisy and herself. The book starts off with Sally’s autobiography from when she was a young girl. Generally speaking Sally gives the child’s view and withholds the adult view or judgement when she is describing her past. However, she doesn’t tell it in a child’s voice, but in the sophisticated language of an adult. This technique enables the reader to understand the girl’s perspective as well as being able to relate more to the language being used.

Part way through her autobiography, when Sally was a bit older, she decides to take action, to find out who she ‘really’ is. Sally takes action and brings about change to the whole family. It leads to action on the part of others. Her determination to investigate is a catalyst. She organises to write Arthur’s autobiography. When she does this she makes use of a very good technique. For this and every other autobiography she transcribes each one sounds like it’s coming from the actual person. Sally brilliantly keeps their language and even language flaws in their stories, e.g. Daisy’s poor English can be heard all through her story from beginning to end, just as she would say it. This enables the responder to feel as if they are actually being told the story by the person and not somebody else who had written it down for them. This shows how Sally tried to keep it as true to the actual person as she possibly could.

My Place, even though it has so many stories in it, still follows a sequence of events through Sally’s life. Besides following through her childhood, it also continues into her adult life and as she got to writing an Autobiography of a family member, that’s where she would place it in the book. This technique helps us still follow through Sally’s life, as she has still included chapters between the autobiographies which shows her reaction to each and the actions she took after finding out about her background and wanting to know more about her history. She had to embrace what she had discovered and use it so take action, action that would change her life and future.

The Poem The Door by Miroslav Holub is from the Change Stimulus Booklet. I believe that this poem greatly shows how change can affect ones life and shows that you need to take action for change to occur. In this poem, the responder is faced with making a change… opening the door. There is an unspoken extended metaphor throughout this poem that implies that you are in a closed room, hence the door, which represents your mind. The technique of using this metaphor enables the responder to place themself in the situation. By being in this room with the closed door you keep to yourself, not allowing any change to occur. Your outlook on life is narrow minded without a broad range of perspective. However, if you open the door, your mind, it implies that you can only benefit from the outcomes.

The poem begins with an imperative tone, ‘Go and open the door’. This repeated directive doesn’t have an intimidating tone but there is an encouraging insistence in the tone used. The italicised “Maybe” suggests possibilities and this is reinforced through the variety of choices.

The focus of the poem goes from looking at simple to complex things to a narrowing focus of looking at the smaller things and what they hold. This shows that when you open your life you may experience something very simple or very complex, you could even see something extraordinary like a magic city… you won’t know until you open the door. This broadens the horizons of the readers mind and shows that the more you open you mind, the more variety and experiences you can encounter… what they can see beyond the tree instead of just looking at the obvious. The narrowing of the focus aims to seek a greater depth. Looking at the small things and what they hold. The first two stanzas have short words and phrases which draws more of an emphasis on each idea. This technique makes you stop and think about each proposal. For example, ‘Picture of a picture’. By not putting these words on the same line it makes you stop, think and reflect after pausing.

The fourth stanza uses soothing tones to calm fears and doubts, eg, the use of ‘Even if’ and breaking down ‘even if nothing is there’, which adds a slower, softer tone. Threatening images of ‘the darkness ticking’ or a ‘hollow wind’ are made to seem safe and not as threatening due to the technique the composer uses to create this tone. The use of these images, however, brings the responder back to reality and makes them realise that what they find when they ‘open the door’ may not always be pleasant, yet the emphasis is still to open the door.

The final stanza acknowledges that any change is preferable than no change at all. It continues the ‘closed room’ metaphor and the word ‘draught suggests refreshment, a positive reward to be gained. It stresses that the effort the responder has made to open the door will always be rewarded, even if this reward is only a small one. The insistence to take action continues all the way through the poem.

The poem The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost also incorporates the idea a choice must be made, and action taken. The two paths represent the options man has to choose from, life’s journey. Faced with these decisions, man has to weigh his options carefully to make an optimal choice. After vacillating between the two fair roads, he finally decides to take the road less travelled by, knowing he cannot see where it will lead. Travelling down the second road, the speaker still yearns to travel both paths- he keeps the first for another day. As the narrator proceeds down the unworn path, he realizes there will be no way he can ever return to the deviation to experience the other route. The speakers utters Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. The narrator must take action to change their course or risk staying at the junction and not making any progress at all. If they try to resist a change they won’t go anywhere so they need to embrace it and see where it leads them.

The poem presents man’s restriction to explore life’s different possibilities. The narrator sighs at the end of the poem gratified with his choice to take the uncommon road, yet also sighing that he may have missed something. The narrator shows satisfaction for taking the uncommon route, but at the same time he sighs with an expression of grief, pondering what he may have missed on the alternate avenue. As successful life’s turnouts may be, there is always regret wondering how another path taken in life brings about other experiences. The technique used here by the composer, that of ambiguity, leaves the poem open for interpretation whether the path taken by the traveller was the best path to take. Although it is ambiguous, we are left with a strong sense that the traveller had to take action, one way or the other. The composer suggests that although there was risk in the decision it was worth it. Even if his journey wasn’t the best, it was different and it was worth it.

Both of these poems involve someone taking a risk. In ‘The Door’ the composer is beckoning the responder to take a risk, open their mind and be able to open the door, to look at life in a different perspective. In ‘The Road Not Taken’ the traveller, the composer, also has to take a risk. They have to choose which road, which path in life to take. In both poems the future is uncertain, what lies on the other side of the door or at the end of the paths is a mystery, yet each poem delivers a sense that no matter what is there, even if it is negative, the effects that it will have on you will still be positive and have their own rewards.

In the cartoon Being Done To by Leunig, the child can only see negative possibilities in his future. His list is a litany of experiences where he is taken advantage of, neglected or abused, which indicates his feelings of powerlessness. There is an unspoken question raised as to whether we should submit to fate or take charge of our own destinies. The cartoon suggests that by being passive and not taking action we run a greater risk. It suggests that the consequences of not taking action or charge are negative, and that we would be at the mercy of the people who do take action.

This cartoon challenges our assumptions about growing up and changing. In the first box of the cartoon a typical question asked, that is usually asked to a child by a father or parent. The responder expects a typical child’s answer to be something simple like a policeman, fireman or lawyer etc. Instead, the responder is shocked to hear the young boy rattle off a long list of sensationalised things that could happen to you. This technique used by the composer is used to shock the responder but also adds humour to the cartoon, because these sophisticated and sensationalised words are coming from a child mouth. It shows the responder they have to empower themselves to take action and not let all these things happen to them.

Another technique used by Leunig in this cartoon is body language. In the second box the son puts his finger up like he has something important to say, like he’s about to deliver a speech and make some points. The father has a look of wonder and interest on his face. As the boxes go on the child continues with the finger up and even uses his hand to start listing things off. While the son’s body language stays the same, if not getting more exuberant and passionate, the father starts to slump, his eyes close and he looks exhausted and tired. The use of body language on the characters helps to emphasise to the responder the passing of time. In the last box the child even looks bigger, which possibly indicates they are older. This portrays to the reader that the list of things that could happen in life is extremely long and extensive. It asks the question of the reader, so they want to just go through this list or do they want to take action and grasp the opportunity to control their destiny.

In conclusion to this letter I would like to reinforce to the Bord of Education how important the Area of Study Change has been to me, and if given the opportunity, to the students who follow. It gives them a much greater insight into their lives, and realising that change needs to be embraced and action needs to take place to bring about change in their lives. Without the opportunity to study these resources I feel that the students will no longer realise why change is so important and can’t be resisted or pushed away… like they are planning to do with the area of study.

Yours sincerely,

Miss A. Nonymous MY PLACE - Sally Morgan

THE DOOR - Muroslav Holub



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