Tag Archives: HSC

The Triwizard Shorenament – Outing the Bully Boys of Privilege.

Yesterday, marked the end of Year 12 in our high schools, and was what’s colloquially known as “Muck-up Day”.

“Your path is your character defining itself more and more every day, like a photograph coming into focus.”

-Jodie Foster

As the name suggests, muck-up day spawns a lot of pranks, including the almost obligatory egg throwing at cars and shops. Indeed, at its worst, it summons up visions of Robespierre’s reign of terror, albeit in school uniform. However, for the students themselves, it means saying goodbye to school, friends, teachers and in many ways, plays one of the last notes of childhood. Yet, it’s also the first step towards liberation and a lot of fun…as long as nothing goes wrong.

By the way, knowing most of you are visiting from overseas, I should point out that Year 12 is the final year of school, and after students have completed their Higher School Certificate exams (HSC), they’re released from captivity into the world like a swarm of bees. That’s when they often head over the Queensland border to celebrate Schoolies Week at Surfers’ Paradise, or on this side of the border at Byron Bay.

In my day, Muck-up Day was more sedate. We might’ve signed each other’s school collars, filled in note and year books, and there had always been rumours of boot polish on the toilet seat. However, at least from memory, that was bad as it got. After all, if we got sprung, there’d be no all-important school reference.

However, from what I’ve gathered in recent years, Muck-up Day has spawned the treasure hunt…a rather quirky or challenging check list. All of this should just be a bit of fun. Indeed, a few years ago, I was eating fish and chips and taking photos at Terrigal Beach on Muck-up Day, and was approached by a few year 12’s. Their list included being photographed with a stranger. I think he might’ve put his arm around me. It was all good fun. They were all dressed in lairy neon outfits and were just running around, mostly sober having a good time and not hurting anyone.

However, this year a treasure hunt with a difference has unfortunately come to light. Sadly, this document reveals privileged bastardry is alive (and possibly even thriving) at at least one of Sydney’s prestigious boys’ school. Looking very much like an annual report, the instructions for the treasure hunt were cleverly entitled: The Triwizard Shorenament. This particular list included 10,000 points for flying down to Melbourne which is currently in Covid Lockdown, “shit on a train”, “break into Taronga Zoo”, drink “6 [vodka] Cruisers in 6 minutes” and “skull 700ml bottle of vodka”. In addition to the inherent elitism expressed, many of the acts are vulgar, anti-social, criminal and also show a concerning acceptance of alcohol abuse. Indeed, you’ve got to ask is this what their privileged parents consider “a good education”?

It’s certainly reinforced our decision to send out kids to the local state school. Well, it might not have been a choice, but there are good and bad eggs everywhere and you just have to hope either sort doesn’t go flying through your car window on muck-up day and hit you in the face.

Meanwhile, I’ve wondered how much media and community attention The Triwizard Shorenament is going to attract. While it’s certainly received some media coverage, there’s also that desire to repress. Stop the bad publicity.

However, I feel the actions outlined in this document, need to be assessed and used as a mirror, a score-card. Not just for the boys and the school involved, but also for the wider community. How did something like that see the light of day in 2020? Don’t we all know better? Moreover, there are six Anglican Ministers on Shore’s school council. Don’t they stand for something better than that? Or, is money all that matters? Are values such as character, integrity, compassion and equality to be spat on and reviled while the kings of the castle squash their minions under foot?

I hope not. However, for me these questions aren’t just ideological. Aren’t mere theory. This is where I’m from.

Of course, I didn’t attend Shore School. It’s a single-sex school for boys. However, I did attend the female equivalent. I was, and to some extent, am still part of this elite. While my life didn’t quite follow the plan and I’ve manged to find more snakes than ladders in my personal journey, I can still fit into those shoes and belong. It’s still where I came from, and part of who I am.

Perhaps, that’s what concerns me most about this despicable treasure hunt. I’d thought we’d moved forward in the last 30 years. That equality had gained a foothold. Moreover, that during the current coronacrisis, we as a society were becoming more caring, compassionate and understanding. Indeed, it is for this reason that the action of spitting on a homeless person disgusts me so much. Haven’t we all learnt just how close anyone is from landing on the streets? Indeed, it’s said many of us are only one maybe two pays away.

Of course, it could said, and it has and has been argued, only a small group of boys was involved. However, it doesn’t even take a close look at the report to see it’s a polished, detailed, and well-planned document. It’s not something put together on the fly and rashly emailed out in a moment of poor judgement. It looks like it was printed, and while I don’t have a lot of facts at hand, I think it was distributed to students and in a way that shows sufficient social acceptance for the plan. That the organizers weren’t stepping out of the mould and felt comfortable putting it together. There doesn’t seem to be an expectation of ridicule, shame, rejection by their peers. It was all carried out all but in the light of day.

However, it’s not easy to speak out against the cool or socially acceptable kids at school. There are also going to be students who were completely out of the loop and knew nothing about it at all, who’ll also have to live with the fallout, and amidst all of this, there will be some very distressed students and families. Although I deplore what was planned and the ideology behind it, I also believe in redemption. That the powers that be in the Class of 2020 can turn this around for good. Apologise and do some community service.

On this front, I’d like to refer back to a very gutsy speech given by Mitch Donaldson, the outgoing school Captain of Sydney’s Knox Grammar School at Speech Day 2007. In front of 1350 fellow students, 150 teachers and 600 parents in the school assembly hall, he spoke out against pressure from over achieving and overbearing parents, which had created a culture of cheating and bullying in year 12. He then pointed the finger at instances of parents who bullied school authorities into giving prestigious positions to their undeserving sons. He said: “There have been people in our year group who have stolen, who have belittled, and who have cheated their way through the past six years.” And most of them, he said, got away with it. But to those who played the game, he said, no matter who your father goes to the gym with, listen carefully. No matter what your efforts, you cannot and will not be able to ever buy respect.” Although that speech went on for 20 minutes,  apparently you could hear a pin drop. After all, the last thing you expect at a school assembly like that is for someone to tell it like it is. And at the end of the speech… after a moment of stunned silence… the whole hall rose to their feet and gave him a standing ovation. Mitchell Donaldson was angry with the injustice that he saw going on in his school 1.. That was an extremely gutsy move.

Sure, the instance at Knox Grammar was different to what went down at Shore, but you can see the parallels, and that they’re two cabs from the same rank.

I’ve inserted a couple of links here in case you’re interested in further reading:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-23/sydney-shore-school-threatens-expulsion-for-muck-up-challenges/12691756

https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/elite-private-school-students-filmed-naming-worst-sydney-suburbs/news-story/67a23c2548fb0250af42a820d46302a4?from=htc_rss

I’d be interested to hear what you have to say about this, and how it might reflect on what you experience in your community. Meanwhile, I’ll site the values of the French Revolution… Equality, Liberty, Freedom.

These values are still worth fighting for today.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Source

  1. https://www.mpc.org.au/media/resources/2007/20071125.html

Weekend Coffee Share – 26th August, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share. How was your week? Hope it went well.

You’re in luck this week. I had a moment of weakness in the supermarket and bought a box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates. So, you can help yourself to a golden nugget of pure scrumptious indulgence. Yum!

The last week disappeared while I was wrestling with our son over his subject choices for the last two years of school. Moreover, while preparing for that, I realized that we really need to get the house in order to help him get focused and organized. That was a rather dire realization, because our place was packed sky-high with towers of books, photo albums and homeless ephemera. After all, for him to achieve his best, this place not only needs to be a well-oiled, organized machine. It also needs to be an oasis of calm,  where our swirling vortex of out-of-control student can crash and immediately find inner peace. Of course, this process goes a lot more smoothly when the parents are exceptionally Zen (in your dreams!!)

Now, that I’ve actually thought this through further now, it’s finally hit me that I’m trying to create utopia. That a home isn’t a factory, and a family isn’t made up of exceptionally well-controlled test subjects or computer-generated characters who only do what they’ve been programmed to do. Unfortunately, families are made up of real people each with their own inner worlds and aspirations and it’s a bit much to ask anyone to put all of that on hold for two years, although a degree of self-sacrifice is to be expected.

The other thing is, that no amount of prayer or feverishly tinkering away with life, is going to protect us from fate. Good and bad things happen and just because he’s doing his HSC, we can’t give him some sort of vaccination against adversity and bad luck. Moreover, to be honest, I don’t know that I would want to either. I’d rather he developed resilience within from fighting his battles, and not succeeding in the short term because he took the easy way out. We also have our Christian faith, but I don’t believe God has promised to protect us from adversity. He’s just promised to be there with us through life’s ups and downs. However, I still have faith in the power of prayer.

That said, I still see glaring examples of the things I do for our son, rather than leaving him to do them for himself. Most of these are those relatively small things around the house, but they do add up. I did leave him to hand in some school notes, which have been in his bag for awhile, but they made it in today…yippee!! Miracles do happen!

I’m looking at working on  two main areas to help him get organized at home. Firstly, I’ve been on a cleaning rampage. Focusing on all the stacks of books teetering on just about any flat surface around the house, I’ve already dropped off a boot load of books and another pile is mounting. These books have also accumulated a lot of dust. So, moving them on is good for our health as well. Once I’ve got through the books, the photo albums are next on the agenda. As an enthusiastic amateur photographer, the photo albums are also everywhere, and I also have loads of old family photos as well. However, I’ve started scanning more of them in and then I can store the bulk of them in the roof. Have some room to move. The other area I’m working on is our time management and keeping tabs on all the appointments. We’ve missed a few things on at the school, and that’s had repercussions. So, it’s pretty important, especially next year when students get a zero for a late assessment, unless there’s a rock solid excuse and I’m talking about something akin to an alibi.

However, although I sound particularly fired up, I’ve actually been  struggling at half-mast. It’s the tail end of Winter here and virtually everybody’s fighting something off. I’ve been sleeping through most of the day and then getting a burst of energy after dinner and staying up too late and the terrible cycle repeats. However, I have a busy day tomorrow so this could be the turning point which will get me back into a good routine. Being the perpetual optimist, I live in hope.

However, it hasn’t been all responsibility during the last week. I’ve also been reading Charles Dickens’: Oliver Twist and have made it halfway. I’m really enjoying it, although poor Oliver’s trials and tribulations are rather intense and pulls at my heartstrings. He’s really happy at the moment and away from Fagan and his darstardly crew for the second time, but things have been too good for too long. I know his luck is about to turn again. If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it. It is fairly quick-paced and there’s a good amount of philosophical reflection throughout, which I enjoy and Dickens is famed for his well-developed characters. They really come to life.

DSC_5798

Meanwhile, our daughter spent much of the week away snow skiing down at Perisher-Smiggins in the Australian Alps. She had a ball. Haven’t seen any photos yet.

Have you been doing any reading lately?

What about your writing? How is that going?

In terms of post through the last week,  there was:

Bye Bye Miss!

Dia-de-los-muertos-Friday-fictioneers/

Dud Photos – Thursday Doors

Dog and I Finally Go For A Walk

Lady Beach

I also reblogged a fascinating post from The Contented Crafter which looks at the use of vivid colours versus dull neutrals: Vivid Colours

Well, time has completely run away from me again tonight and I have a swag of things on tomorrow so I’d better scoot.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena