Choosing subjects for the HSC

That’s the Higher School Certificate in NSW Australia.   The VCE (I think) in Vic, Australia, and I’m not sure what they are called in the other states.  I think the A Levels are the same for the United Kingdom.


Sooo, I’m on my third teenager here.  Last two teens were boys.  Had an awesome list of subjects they wanted to do.  Then one by one those subjects were not run by the school.  Ended up with boys not interested in completing work because it wasn’t what they wanted to learn.

Number 3 teenager is a girl.   She pretty awesome really.  Starting to get her head around being organised (not quite organised yet)  and realises she needs to work harder to get the mraks she’ll need to go to university.


We worked on an English Assignment last night.  I would have said ‘and this morning’ but it was really only 5 minutes past midnight when we pulled the plug and went to bed.


The reason I say “We” is because daughter wasn’t able to say what the Themes, or rather Platforms, in the book  they were given and told to read. Now my daughter is an avid reader and she found it very, very heavy going.  Personally I find if you’re going to dissect a book you need to have read it a few times.  I’m just wondering how those kids who find it hard to read any book got on.


With two nights to do the task, they had to do a page each on about the social, political and economic platforms that the book highlighted.


So we spent a good deal of time trying to discuss these things.  Without me telling her what they were, but trying to wheedle them out of what she’d read (and I haven’t read the book, just know what the platforms – or issues as I would have said! were relevant in those times.)

Well thank goodness for Mr Google, as usual!  I now know more about a book I haven’t read, than I ever wanted to know.  Daughter and I feel that the Task (not assignment which would rate a mark, but a task which simply attracts and N Asward – not completeed) is done, but not well at all.


My question after sitting there for about 4 hours in total, is ‘Why don’t they discuss this in class.’  We used to discuss and dissect books, poetry, whatever! in class with the teacher facilitating the discussions.  The teacher drawing out people who don’t like to talk too much, and keeping a lid on those who are convinced they know everythng and no one else needs speak!  And encouraging those who don’t even read much to have read at least one pertinent chapter, so they can actually join in and get a feel for it.


They’re in Year 10.  They’re not yet in the HSC years where they are meant to work alone.  This is one of the ‘Learning how to’ do years.


I’m so over the catchcry of ‘When you get to University you’ll be doing all essays/reports/assignments.  You’ll have to work alone, be self motivated, competent.’  As I said they are in year 10.  Not in University.  Not in years 11 and 12.  They need to learn how to do those things you expect them to do in the future, they need to practise it with direction and supervision,  That’s what they’re in Year 10 for.  To learn how to do this stuff so they can go on and do it well.


You will find that the assignments/tasks that you set, that have not been worked on enough in class will have some old fashioned setouts.  That’s because if I’m doing the teaching then it will be my methods and ideas that will be floating the boat.  It will be a case of homeschooling gone wrong – get over it, and suck it up , or do more of the ground work in class.


One of my mothers old sayings was ‘You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.’  Which translated into classroom terms, means you aren’t going to turn out famous literary novellists and other Englishy people if you start out with kids who don’t have the capabillity.


It’s true.  But think on this a little more…if you want people who are interested in doing the work, and doing it well, and CAN do it, and well, then you need to to teach that.  The more you facilliatate those discussions and encourage their thinking, the better the assignments and tasks that they turn in to you, will be.


I’m now considering what careers you could have without English figuring in it so much.  I’d always liked English.  I think that it’s the only Mandatory subject for the HSC, which is a pity.  I’ve always held that if people couldn’t understand English by year 11 they probably wouldn’t pick it up in the last 2 years.  But I’m seriously wondering how to get around the subject, reduce it’s impact on the HSC for us.


And I have a new strategy that I think will make choosing your HSC subjects better for us all.


Don’t choose the subjects so much.  Have a hit list of things nothing on God’s earth would make you do.  Set them aside.

Have another list of things that you would adore to do.  Set that aside.

Make the list of things you could do if you had to.  Set that aside.


Now, all the teachers should be assigned to the subjects before the families choose the subjects for the HSC.

The teachers will then make a video of themselves teaching this subject.

All videos will be loaded to You Tube, so even if teachers are moving schools you can get a feel for how they teach.

And whether it will gel with the teenager’s learning style?


Out of the Adore these subjects – look at the videos.  You may find that you stop adoring the subject when you see how you will be taught.

If you have all your subjects there – you’re not done yet.  See end of this for tips.


If you have some or none by the end of Step One, then pull out the Bearable Subjects, and You Tube them.

Always have a few extra subjects ready jic.


If you have been through Step One and Step Two and you still don’t have a full set of subjects then take out the Unbearable Subjects.

Just have a You Tube of them.  It’s just possible that the teaching style of a certain teacher will make some subjects actually bearable.

It’s quite likely that teaching style of some teachers will make some subjects unbearable.


And you do need a backup list.  Because after subjects are chosen the school can pull subjects right up until they start the work.  So you may end up with a different choice at the last moment.


If you’ve been a good parent and teenager and done your homework you will not need to run cursing to You Tube to make the next choice.

You’ll have your backups ready and waiting.  You’ll get a High Distinction as a parent 🙂


As a midwife, and an experienced parent, I need to mention one last problem with choosing subjects and teachers.

That is, reproduction.  Or, as you may think of it “Maternity Leave’.’

No, I’m not going to say as some parents would about a fabulous teacher…..They should not be allowed to have a baby till my child is out of school!


No.  But – honestly?  People do so much online these days.  Surely those teachers who have important senior years might like to consider doing their classes online.  There are people in the outback who do their learning via a computer/interactive learning.  And there are Distance Ed learning.  So doing learning classes online with a great teacher could be a win for the students.


For the teacher?  Well, you could keep your hand in the classroom while you were off.  You could just keep your teaching to the senior years, so would be reduced hours and online, but give you some Timeout from the baby.  Especially if you got one of those babies who don’t beieve in sleep – you’d have a great reason for a few hours daycare.     It could work…



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