Language Analysis

VCAA: Yvette Yergon: Exploring our Dreams

In an effort to promote the exploration of the “unknown”, Yvette Yergon targets Australians in her opinion piece titled “Exploring our Dreams” recounting both historical and modern stories of success and the practical benefits that stem from such ventures. Employing an initially idealistic mentality and optimistic tone, and ultimately later transitioning into a more assertive tone, Yvette in particularly addresses older Australians to highlight the importance of inspiring the “next generation of scientists”. The accompanying illustration of Columbus’s ship and the pictures of tangible items which were produced by space exploration both serve the exemplify the benefits of exploration. However, in direct response to Yvette, Peter Laikis’s letter titled “Off the Planet” critically and vehemently attacks Yergon for her idealistic approach, insisting on a more pragmatic perspective.

Yergon commences by arguing for the importance of being curious and ambitious through the employment of an “inspiring” anecdote, recounting her experience at an exhibition presented by “Kolumbus-21”, thereby attempting to encourage readers to “explore the unknown”. Indeed, by initially beginning with this idealistic mentality, Yvette perhaps attempts to urge readers to delve into their memories to melancholically acknowledge moments of missed opportunities, perhaps prompting them to encourage others to following their “dreams”. Yergon’s remark that “space is only about 160 kilometres straight up”, with the adverb “only” accentuating the insignificant and almost easily accessible nature of space signifying that dreams can “come true”, aims to invoke confidence and conviction within readers towards their own aspirations, thus, prompting them to take risks. Likewise, Yergon claims that dreaming about what’s “beyond” the world is an inherent component of “human nature”, reiterating that dreaming should not be suppressed, rather, the audience should engage with this desire and strengthen its momentum. Therefore, the “inspiring” journey of Columbus, who set off in a “wooden ship”, “powered only by the wind” with only his “skill and courage” leading to his discovery of America highlights the unpredictability of pursing our ventures and taking risks, instilling a sense of optimism towards the potential rewards of their journeys. The illustration of Columbus’s ship being assaulted by the waves further serves to exemplify the notion that despite any obstacles that might arise, persistence is essential to achieving one’s goals. In addition, the large size of the moon in comparison with the medium-sized ship also alludes to the fact that Columbus’s journey was not without impediments, attempting to encourage readers to continually pursue their dreams in spite of any difficulties that might arise – perhaps also attempting to normalise the occurrence of complications.

Having established the importance of pursing dreams, Yergon subsequently engages a more assertive tone, revealing the more practical and tangible benefits by utilising the specific instance of space exploration. By pre-empting potential opposition to space-exploration due to its high “costs”, Yergon establishes the potential ability for space exploration to raise around “a trillion dollars”. She also directly appeals to Australians by claiming that it might be the “next mining boom”, urging readers to establish a parallel between the success of mining in Australia and the mining of asteroids, prompting them to consider the immense economic benefits that they would be able to experience from such exploration. The statement that there are “almost unlimited mineral resources” that “nobody owns”, with the word “unlimited” seemingly translating into “unlimited money” interwoven with Yergon’s claim that this idea is clearly perceptible, with the adverb “evidently” exemplifying the extensive potential of space exploration, also encourages readers to recognise the huge potential benefits that can arise as a by-product of the exploration of space. Indeed, many “products” today were developed “from research associated with space programs” – benefits that “could not have been predicted at the time” of this investment in space exploration, reiterating that only through the exploration of space on the basis of curiosity have these tangible benefits been invented, positioning readers to be grateful towards those who decided to pursue their dreams. The photographs of solar panels, GPS, safe food processing, radial tires and medical imaging stemming from the image of an astronaut serve to instil the notion that these benefits which have possible made their lives easier would not have been possible without space exploration thereby encouraging older Australians who have reaped the benefits to “inspire the next generation of scientists”.

However, in direct response to Yergon’s opinion piece, Laikis attacks Yergon’s idealistic ideology and instead critically identifies the bigger “problems” of the world such as “hunger, disease and the environment” which are desperately in need of the “trillions of dollars” wasted on her “false belief”. This attack seemingly attempts to “wake up” readers who may have become consumed by their unrealistic “dreams”, instead urging them to pursue a more pragmatic perspective so that they will recognise the immense misuse of funding on impractical visions. Indeed, he attributes Yergon’s inspiring story of not only Columbus, but also space exploration to human greed and the dream of “more and more wealth”, thereby attempting to diminish the “unexpected” outcomes by marring them with the hedonistic pursuit of money in “human nature”. In doing so, Laikis urges readers to recognise that if there was no economic or personal reward, governments would not be pursing such ventures. Therefore, Laikis insists that the government’s money would be better spent on preserving the “planet we call home” before it becomes a “lifeless asteroid”, which is contrasted against Yergon’s prediction of mining “asteroids”, accentuating that humans will continue to pursue wealth despite the environmental consequences of their actions. Thus, when Laikis clearly points out that his dream is “inspiring” governments in the world “to agree to keep working” until all the problems in the world are solved signifies that the probability of his dream occurring is little to none, positioning readers to feel a sense of shame towards their inaction and constant conquest for wealth encouraging them to petition governments to spend their money more responsibly. The phrase “one by one” is also suggestive of an infinitely long list of problems, attempting to foster a sense of concern towards the future and viability of Earth for younger generations.
(1007 words)

VCAA: Mrs Elliot

In response to the increasing adoption of new technology as a substitute to reading and literacy-related activities in the form of hard-copy books, Mrs Elliot’s speech at the opening of ‘Reading: the future’ seeks to reveal the detrimental effects of the appropriation of electronic books. Indeed, employing an initially jubilant tone and later transitioning into a more critical tone, Elliot targets teachers, librarians and senior school students from local schools to recognise the importance and benefits of preserving and engaging with hard-copy books instead of e-books. Likewise, an accompanying illustration depicting the communal and joyful environment of a bookstore serves to exemplify the advantages that physical books can bring.

Elliot commences in a light-hearted and vibrant tone arguing for the benefits of “new technology” signifying that she is not merely dismissive of change, but rather embraces it, thereby attempting to mitigate the negative impact of her generational gap with senior school students to increase her credibility and relatability as she subtly generates doubt towards the adoption of e-readers. Indeed, she employs a personal anecdote from her “teenager” years and describes herself with the words “enthusiastic” and “excited”, which hold youthful connotations alluding to her outgoing and energetic personality encouraging senior school students to view her as an equal. Though, interwoven with her praise for electronic books, she also subtly hints towards its more detrimental impacts through the adoption of passivity, claiming that she “thought” it would make “books easier to get” and it “would be a good thing”. This usage inherently suggests that her optimism towards e-books has diminished, thereby aiming to consolidate the suspicions of older audience members who may have also developed similar beliefs while simultaneously preserving her acceptability within students. Likewise, though she claims that her “enthusiasm extends to e-books”, she identifies that only “some things” about them are great, implying that overall, e-readers are unsuitable. Thus, her sardonic praise for e-books of being able to “change the brightness settings and the font size” seemingly alludes to her criticism of e-books, for she identifies the more menial tasks that e-readers can help achieve, attempting to encourage the audience to acknowledge that e-readers are very limited in their ability to invoke the “imaginations” of children in comparison with physical books. Her sarcastic remark that e-books “can break through the limitations of the printing press” also echoes her earlier anecdote of the invention of the printing press in the “15th century” which led to the “number of books in the world explode[ing]”, further insinuating that e-readers are effectively purposeless, positioning the audience to concede that they do not have any significant benefits over hardcopy books.

Having established herself as a reputable individual, Elliot subsequently engages a more critical and direct attitude towards e-books attacking them for their inability to engage the mind and promote imagination and creativity, aiming to encourage readers to read hardcopy books instead of e-books. Elliot undermines the value of devices by linking them to a passive activity which does not involve the active generation of ideas. The characterisation of passivity is achieved through description of children merely “looking”, “viewing” and “consuming” electronic content, three weak verbs suggestive of mindless activity which encourages listeners to view devices as lacking intellectual and educational value. In addition, Elliot claims that the “video and animated images” that e-books contain do not correspond to “genuine reading”, with the word “genuine” signifying that e-books are inferior and a mere counterfeit of the true reading experience encouraging the audience to engage with real books so that they can experience what it truly means to allow their imagination to flourish. In fact, she recounts that by opening and reading a book, she was able to “shorten” a “long and unpleasant flight to London”. Therefore, with the metaphor of “time” being able to “fly” and the use of an exclamation mark, Elliot strongly conveys a tangible aspect of reaping the benefits of indulging in books, attempting to prompt the audience to replicate such an experience of allowing their imagination to absorb them. The smiling and joyful facial expressions of both the cashier and the customers in the visual depicting a bookstore whilst the purchase of a book is occurring also further accentuates the notion that physical books bring pleasure and enjoyment to readers. Hence, through her use of rhetorical questions mainly targeted towards teachers and librarians questioning whether they “think it will be healthy for our kids to spend hours and hours using e-books at schools”, Elliot urges them to reconsider the use of e-books at school and possibly even to eradicate their use in the classroom in favour of traditional print books.

Building upon her critical perspective on e-books, she capitalises on this momentum by further attacking the practicality of e-books due to their ability to “vanish”, highlighting the potential loss of “knowledge, history, even culture” prompting the audience to recognise the dependence of e-books on the World Wide Web and its dangers. Indeed, she dramatizes the potential downfall of e-books by claiming that “if global cyber disaster struck, the loss would be unthinkable” attempting to generate concern in the audience and thereby prompting them to acknowledge the advantage to having hardcopy books – they do not depend on “computer servers”. The sarcastic speech bubble in the illustration telling the customer to “Enjoy” their book “for a good six months before it vanishes” further exemplifies the absurdity of e-books vanishing, allowing the audience to question the motives behind these e-book companies. Indeed, while she does concede that “publishers” may wish to “update textbooks every year”, she retaliates by appealing to the financial aspect of continually having to pay “every year” for books before they are “recalled by the publisher”, attempting to evoke a sense of concern within school students for their careless misuse of their parents money to purchase e-books every year when they could have simply purchased a physical copy which lasts forever. Moreover, Elliot identifies the communal aspect of traditional books, with the public bookstore being filled with happy individuals in the illustration creating the notion of “lending and sharing” which is juxtaposed against books that “just sit silently on their virtual shelf when they’re finished”, perhaps aiming to evoke a sense of nostalgia in the audience of a time when they were able to converse with others about a book that they both read highlighting the sense of community that traditional print books can create.
(1066 words)

VCAA: Spire Primary [Timed: 55min]

In response to the recent increase in packaging waste, Denise Walker, in a school newspaper article, addresses parents of Spire Primary School in an attempt to convince them to reduce their environmental impact. By adopting an initially adamant tone, and later transitioning into a more humorous tone, she highlights the parents’ detrimental contribution, arguing that unless they act now, “the environmental damage will be irreversible”. However, in direct respond, Louise pragmatically response by not only justifying her actions, thereby absolving fellow parents of their guilt, but also signifying the flaws within Walker’s idealistic plan. An accompanying illustration of a mountain of garbage serves to exemplify the potential impact if no action is taken, supporting Walker’s argument.

Walker commences by stressing the imperative of adopting her “new concept”, with the word “new” signifying the freshness and innovative nature of her idea, thereby urging parents to commend and support all her efforts in aiding “the preservation of our planet”. By initially employing such an argument, Walker perhaps attempts to strengthen her later argument outlining the solutions of reducing the “unnecessary packaging” that parents are currently using. Indeed, through the use of the inclusive “we” interwoven with the adverb “only” and the school logo depicting an image of a tree, Walker accentuates the exceedingly progressive nature of Spire Primary in terms of environmental awareness, invoking a sense of pride within readers for their contributions. Then, coupled with the subtitle of the logo “Lead & InSpire”, Walker signifies that Spire Primary is not a school which simply follows trends, but rather sets them and inspires others, suggesting that while it may be challenging to be leaders, parents must persevere to implement meaningful change. Additionally, the description of having hens that “scratch” and “roam”, two words generating images of energy and enthusiasm, seemingly draw parallels between the hens and the students who attend the school, suggesting that the heavy focus upon environmental suitability is cultivating a genuine and eager desire to help maintain the planet. Therefore, parents in an attempt to further encourage the learning of their children, would perhaps support the implementation of additional environment-focused activities at Spire Primary. Knowing that parents would also be concerned about their children’s future, Walker directly appeals to parents by stating that they are “responsible for the future” of their children, implying that if they do not support her idea, then they are being negligent towards their children’s generation, attempting to generate guilt within parents. Hence, when Walker identifies the culprit as being “superfluous packaging”, she aims to prompt parents to not only consider their impact on the environment, but also to eliminate such packaging in their own lives.

Subsequently, having garnered the support of parents who may have been initially opposed due to her potentially excessive focus on the environment, Walker presents solutions for the detrimental impact of their use of “unnecessary packaging”, thereby encouraging them to implement such measures. Indeed, Walker’s generation of a dichotomy between those who use such packaging and those who are environmentally conscious through the adoption of exclusive language, referring to the children as “your children”, aims to associate herself with altruistic ideals of being the saviour and protector of the environment – ideals that form the foundation of the school. Hence, she invokes a sense of shame within parents for their inability to uphold the values of Spire Primary. Further, as she delves into the “little packets” that parents give their children, which subsequently become “waste material”, she serves to invoke the illustration presented of a mountain “clogg[ed]” with rubbish bags. The overflowing nature of the bags coupled with the dark and ominous sky seek to illustrate the potentially devastating and “irreversible” consequences if the parents do not act now. Therefore, Walker’s presentation of using “re-usable containers” and a “washable plastic bottle” as being the solution to such a problem attempts to compel parents to engage in such ideas. Moreover, Walker also presents the characteristic behaviour of children to contribute to the pollution, signifying that even if parents have good intentions, such as adopting biodegradable packaging, such waste will still end “up on the ground”, leading to “more rubbish”. Walker seemingly applauds parents for their actions, but ultimately believes that more can be done, encouraging them to support the solution of removing packaging and introducing more sustainability classes to help students learn the importance of protecting the environment. However, in an attempt to appear impartial, Walker also outlines that the school will also take action by adopting an “old communal teapot”, generating images of the olden days, encouraging parents to reminisce about the absence of pollution in their own childhoods.

However, in direct response to Walker’s article, Louise attacks her idealistic ideology and instead attempts to absolve fellow parents of any guilt, arguing that balancing “time” between their various commitments can be exceedingly difficult. Although, before delving into her attack, she does offer a concession, claiming that she has “always supported” Walker’s ideas thereby presenting herself to readers as being open and accepting of new ideas. When Louise denigrates Walker for the unnecessary burden she would be placing upon parents, claiming that her already chaotic mornings would be made “worse” by enacting such solutions, she aims to garner the support of fellow parents, who likewise, would feel stressed and time-pressured in the morning. Further, Louise not only justifies the decision to leave the biscuits and cheese separated through the “chaos” of mornings, but also claims they would otherwise “go soggy”, thereby attempting to foster concern within parents due to Walker’s prioritisation of the environment over the quality of their children’s food. Additionally, she offers support for parents who may need to purchase takeaway, characterising it as being a “lifesaver for busy people”, with the word “lifesaver” holding positive connotations of something which is meant to be used in times of trouble, attempting to relegate any guilt that parents might feel. Louise’s employment of a rhetorical question asking Walker if she has “any idea how many plastic bottles” that they have lost signifies the futility of relinquishing single-use bottles, for either way, they would still be contributing to the problem at hand. Hence, by concluding her comment by referring to Walker’s request as being a “vague principle”, she cleverly adopts a pun to assimilate both herself and her request as being “vague”, a word accentuating the lack of concrete practical benefits, thus, attempting to appeal to more pragmatic parents, who would likewise fail to see any motivation to adopt her ideas.
(1078 words)

Insight: Free University Education [Timed: 50min]

Recently, the Abbott Government’s proposal to deregulate university fees has sparked a debate about how much students should be contributing to their university fees. In an article titled ‘The real cost of free education’ in Campus Chorus, Arjuna Bhamra targets not only fellow Australian students, but also fellow Australian taxpayers to demonstrate that ‘free’ education is a ‘myth’ and unfeasible. Therefore, by employing an initially sarcastic tone and later transitioning into a more critical and assertive tone, Bhamra aims to admonish the prospect of free education, thereby attempting to convince his audience to support a scheme where students contribute, instead of leeching off a system.

Bhamra commences by arguing that there “is no such thing as a free education” with a sardonic anecdote of a recent protest of students supporting free education, thereby signifying the selfish nature of the students, generating concern within the audience. By commencing with such an argument, Bhamra perhaps attempts to strengthen his following argument concerning the elitist middle – upper class mentality, which seeks to demonstrate the burden of a free system upon the disadvantaged. Indeed, the sarcastic comment that the bricklayers “smiled” towards the students attempts to generate the image of the bricklayers laughing at the incredulous nature of the proposal of free education. As revealed in the following line, the bricklayers express their complete cognisance towards who will be paying for their education, with the juxtapositioning of the bricklayers with the professions that they are helping to fund – “doctors and lawyers” – seeks to exemplify the social divide between the two, and hence, aims to instil a sense of anger within the audience due to the inherent inequity of such a proposal. Further, Bhamra notes that the funding necessary to maintain universities is in the “billions of dollars”, thereby attempting to establish the immense contribution that taxpayers make to fund the education of others, urging taxpayers to question whether it is their responsibility to pay for something that they cannot reap the rewards for. Yet, Bhamra quickly reveals that the taxpayer pays “59 percent” while the student simply pays “41 percent”, such a disparity between both figures, coupled with the incredulous idea that taxpayers are paying more than the students, as enhanced by the position of “59 percent” first, attempts to generate concern towards the current education system, and potentially, to view it as flawed, for it relies not on the student – the one receiving the benefits of the intellect that university provides – but taxpayers. However, in doing so, Bhamra seems to provide the HECS system, which “means that anyone” is capable of a higher education “no matter their current financial position” is the best alternative – as it provides students with a chance to loan money and therefore pay it back when they start earning money, attempting to demonstrate to the students that it is possible to balance their aspirations with a system fair for taxpayers as well – encouraging taxpayers to view it as a viable solution as well.

Having established the true cost of education and an alternative, Bhamra subsequently delves into the inherent flaw of providing free education, arguing that it is an “elitist middle-class welfare at its worst”, with the superlative “worst” accentuating that this idea is in itself incredulous and absurd, urging the audience to feel concern, especially current students, towards the impact of their lives upon those who are not as fortunate. Bhamra outlines the disparity in wealth quite clearly, stating that those who gain an education earn roughly “1.4 million” more than someone who does no engage in higher education. Yet, those a part of the “75 percent lower lifetime income” bracket inevitably end up subsidising the university cost for the fortunate, attempting to generate both anger and concern due to the inequity present. Indeed, the image of people holding up banners with text “free healthcare” and “free education” serves as the embodiment of this elitist mentality, which appears to be self-serving and inconsiderate of others. Therefore, Australian students would be encouraged to question themselves the debilitating nature off their actions, which seem to only prioritise themselves. Therefore, Bhamra adopts the repetition of the word “elite” consistently throughout, a word with highly negative connotations which serves to create a dichotomy between the poor and “elite” – furthering the gap between both groups seeks to invoke guilt within students, for they are not currently paying for their own education, but rather replying upon taxpayer money. Bhamra bolsters this by employing the quotidian activity of paying for “food” and “shelter” with education, urging students to recognise that they should not leech off society, but rather contribute and pay for what they want. The bleak rhetorical question balancing “elite education” with the “national disability insurance scheme” exemplifies the idea of the “poor” paying for the “privileged”, encouraging the public who may read this magazine to feel outraged at this entrenched mentality which does not serve the nation – but is merely selfish thinking. The black colouring used in the illustration therefore presents the students who are the ones concerned about “me” and getting “more” to be corrupt, encouraging students to persuade one another to recognise the flaws and to be more altruistic.

Subsequently, Bhamra argues that when governments are in “tough fiscal times”, but still want to engage in free education, it can only be detrimental, with the word “tough” not only applying to the government, but the epithet would also apply to the poor taxpayers who are strapped for money, thereby invoking anger towards the government for this contribution to this fallible concept. Likened to a ‘myth’, Bhamra outlines that the fully taxpayer funded schemes under the Whitlam government is incapable of solving any of the problems related to the accessibility of education, rather it seemingly exacerbated such difficulties. Indeed, the word ‘myth’ presents Whitlam to be engaging in a child’s story, not only denigrating his policy, but also his capacity to think, thereby encouraging the audience not to support for such a proposal if they do not want to be like Whitlam. Therefore, notably, “a lower proportion of the population undertook higher education” and there was “no shift in the socio-economic status of higher education”, painting his policy as a complete failure, urging the audience to learn from the past and to never repeat such an error again. Yet, he once again extols the benefits that the HECS system brought, with the number of university spaces tripling to over “1.25 million students” suggesting that the loaning system is the best way possible, encouraging the audience to view the current loaning system to be beneficial – only that we should decrease the taxpayer contribution. Hence, the sardonic image of Bhamra questioning whether “0.00” and “knowledge” is a “fair trade” elucidates that each university must be paid accurately by students to maintain the high standard demanded by them, encouraging the students to recognise that if they wish to improve their own education system, they cannot reply on taxpayers, especially the disadvantaged, but must contribute themselves to reap the benefits of the “best possible facilities and student services”.

Ultimately, while Bhamra lauds the loading system, he merely argues that students must contribute more, instead of burdening the disadvantaged and the “poorer taxpayers to pay the entire cost”, essentially admonishing the prospect of free education.
(1209 words)