First Post

First things first: a warm welcome to blog readers and participants.

We all have a list of first times in our lives. Many of them form significant turning points and memories. Well this is my First Post.


I was inspired to set up a blog after reading Lauren Cook’s article about the use of blogging in classroom teaching practice. This article was published in the latest ‘Idiom’ (Vol 48 No 3 2012), the Victorian Association for the Teaching of English magazine. After reflecting on the ideas presented in this article, I considered how a blog could be a very useful tool in my tutoring role.

I am holding high hopes that this could be a great way to:

  1. share ideas and relevant internet links with students;
  2. create a repository for my teaching notes; and
  3. provide a medium for interactive and reflective learning processes beyond teaching and tutoring sessions.

I look forward to sharing this exploration with you.



Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (where it’s trying to be a warm and sunny summer but is more like autumn heading for winter).


Useful Internet VCE English Resource and a Warning re Internet Use.

Hi to VCE students and readers,

An Example of Useful Internet VCE English Resource.

I recently accessed ATAR Notes, a VCE resource for students mostly by students.                              With some sifting, it has some excellent material (and forums of mixed value).

Below is one of the excellent links. Disclaimer: note the date!                                                      However, there is still so much valuable material.Current curriculum involves more awareness and use of metalanguage and multiple readings (awareness of how people can interpret text differently depending on personal and social perspective and ideological leanings). Please first read through to the end of this post.

English Guides, Sample Pieces, Tips and Resources « on: December 19, 2010, 12:15:28 AM »

As always, do not just take what you read at face value. Consider deeply and analyse critically. Do your research. How would you approach the material? Regularly practice paragraphs in the appropriate form and style in response to prompts and text.


One more very important thing! Do not click on links like iLivid to access media material. They often come bundled with very nasty Trojans.

This I discovered last night.                                                                                                               It took me a weekend to realise how deep the Trojans burrowed into my system.                                  It took me many hours to work out how to dig them out and destroy them safely.                           I’m not the most technically savvy person but I was determined!

So now I wish to share my story briefly as a warning and a guide to any who find themselves in this situation.

One of the web pages on ATAR Notes had a link to a bundle of 50 odd articles a student had accumulated in his research for the Context Area of Study. There was a suggested link for file decompression. It was iLivid in this case. I trustingly/foolishly clicked the link and downloaded it. This involved the typical permission I Agree. Unfortunately, somewhere in all that wordiness, or in some other technical way beyond my comprehension, there must be a loophole for Trojans to use and hijack and/or a point of entry through my firewall .

The first problem seemed fairly innocuous but irritating. My default browser was sidelined and instead a Bing-like browser page popped up with URL searchnu after redirection through; according to Anvisoft Forums, it is categorised as “a malicious browser hijacker virus” which pretends to be a legitimate website but comes with lots of bundled malware, malicious spyware, adware parasites etc. A very, very nasty piece of work! )  The use of a www1 appeared during this time which at other times may not have been so much of a worry but in the context certainly was, given that it enables redirection (I believe). Waiting ‘in the sidelines’ of my programs, I also found WiseConvert, URL There were even more I could not find or identify. See below.


  • No searches were done after infection!
  • Asked someone else to look up the suspicious URL name from another computer and,  when this was not an option, I used my un-synced smartphone search facility to keep a separation of information.
  • Was cautious about the sites used for information especially if the discussion seemed lightweight or if they suggested downloads or links.
  • Triple+ checked the suggestions across a range of sites. The more trustworthy sites offer suggestions for finding and dealing with embedded programs and links.
  • Cleared all my download and search histories in the hope of reducing data accessible to spyware before following sensible suggestions from selected sensible sites.
  • Went into Control Panel and uninstalled suspicious programs appearing over the last week and particularly around the date of iLivid download.
  • Accessed Settings on the affected browser and deleted any suspicious add-ons and reset the default browser page.
  • Ran my widely respected virus protection program.
  • Restored system to an earlier date before download of iLivid then ran updates and virus check again.
  • Rebooted.
  • The problem would go away for awhile — but then it would re-emerge!
  • Researched anti-malware and anti-spyware programs. I have generally found CNET  to be a reliable point of research  as a guideline on a number of computer technology issues and programs, but again I cross reference.
  • Downloaded Spybot Search and Destroy, read Tutorial and Help then ran it. I thought I had uninstalled several dodgy programs including iLivid and reset settings. Spybot did a deep search and found several problems, including an iLivid cookie deep in my system. On instruction it disposed of all except one problem. It advised a second run through on Administrator mode, This removed the last, most deeply embedded bug/virus/trojan/worm or whatever it was bearing iLivid tag. So far so good: fingers crossed.
  • Am now considering getting another such program which someone recommended would work alongside Spybot.
  • Am also considering resetting passwords after putting out this warning for others. Perhaps I should have done this last night @ 2am when I finally cleared the system – hopefully.

Why does it matter?

Various sites suggest some disturbing possibilities apart from simply watching your search habits.

  • Tee Support claims Wiseconvert toolbar (Wise Convert BHO) may be a part of an online fraud, sneaking into the target computer and changing DNS settings, forcing pop ups and redirections to Wise Convert or other tricky links like searchnu or dts (any unfamiliar browser names or changes in look should be treated with utmost suspicion and caution). Ultimately one of them resets your browser to URLs like without consent. Initially it may appear just a nuisance but it can cause browser crashes (which happened to me), slow the system, slow internet speed, The nuisance value increases over time.
  • However, it is the breach of privacy and the harvesting of personal information (browser passwords, cookies, online banking details etc) which are particularly disturbing to the this era of identity theft and internet fraud.
  • Other sites suggest your computer can be used as a redirection/transfer or remote station for dodgy, even illegal & salacious, internet activities.

I hope this helps some of you.



Kalliope Amorphous_Imitation Vs. Inspiration: On Creativity And Visual Plagiarism

Here is a reasoned call to artistic (and, I would argue, intellectual) authenticity from the blog of Kalliope Amorphous: Imitation Vs. Inspiration: On Creativity And Visual Plagiarism. The copying of a visual artwork, complete with a largely cut and pasted artist’s statement, described in this post would be called plagiarism in the academic world and viewed with disappointment, distrust and disgust. It is a breach of trust at an individual and community level.

Referencing and developing fresh ideas around other people’s ideas is how the world of ideas maintains momentum and it should be encouraged. However, referencing is the key word. We need to be honest and courageous enough to acknowledge credit where it is due.

With this in mind, go forth and create.


Ideas about Identity on TEDx

2012 Photos from Julie's iPhone 684      Hi there,

TEDxConstitutionDrive 2012 had a very interesting series of 15 minute talks on Identity in today’s world and into the future. These are important ideas to consider in the early decades of the digital revolution.

For VCE students here in Victoria, Australia, listening carefully to these talks and pondering the ideas presented will offer material relevant to any of the Contexts as well as preparing for citizenship in our rapidly changing world.

John Murray presents some of SRI’s interesting research projects which shine light on identity generally and  in the digital world in “The Future of Identity: New Research Ideas at SRI”:

Duleesha Koolasooriya offers his thoughts about “Identity as a Barrier” in a shifting world. Check out the cheeky message on his T-shirt.                                                                                                                                             

“The Need for Limited Liability Personas” is an informative and challenging talk by Canadian Kaliya Hamlin alias Kaliya Identity Woman. Anyone who has used personas or handles or pseudonyms online should listen to this. Probably be anyone reading this blog 😉

In “Tribal & Scientific Identities”, Chuck Striplen & Laura Peticolas present the development of projects to amalgamate the knowledge of land management from two different paradigms and how the process challenges the identity of those involved and the efficiency model of scientific communities and corporations.  The final message is worth noting. It would be a great process to implement here in Australia with our First Nation peoples. Our Western management model imposed on a tough yet fragile landscape has created some inspiring engineering projects with profound social enrichment through the migrant workers involved but also some enormous environmental problems and terrible alienation of the original custodians of the land.

I clicked on a talk on “Identity Crisis” with a picture of a young muslim woman. It is from TEDxYouth@Cairo and, as I discovered, is in Arabic. Taken in by Menna El Kiey’s passion and energy, rather than just click away, I continued watching and listening for 5 minutes.  I enjoyed hearing the music of a language the semantics of which eluded me.  I also discovered in that time that she seamlessly wove in quite a few English words and phrases. I thought it interesting to note which ones: as long as; radio; comic; biology; trust – mistrust; communication; rules; forbid (?); guys (as an appealing address); emotion; opposite gender; dream (in the visual); achievement; TEDx; research; notes; time. This stirred many thoughts about language, culture, history and identity.

I’d love to hear what you make of any or all of these explorations of identity.




Mindfulness in May

Hi there,

I’m mindful that it’s been quite awhile since my last post.
A new granddaughter has entered my world which is very exciting. It has also distracted me from my thought processes about and plans for posts. That’s ok. That’s life.

I came across this today and thought it may be useful for others in dealing with life’s daily and exceptional events.

Then I came across this talk on 4 May 2013 from TEDx Sydney (an annual TED style event). It’s title is ‘Finding Your Inner Voice’ and it covers ideas about intuition and mind-body connection or mindfulness about our emotions seated in our bodies. This is really worth a listen:

The day long event had foods produced locally delivered to the caterers in the days beforehand. They did not know what was going to be delivered. It’s been called Crowd Farming. What an amazing concept!  Be inspired!

Hoping to post again soon.
Take care and cheers.


Students of VCE English may have to write a piece in the imaginative mode for the Context study. It is most probable that the form of creative writing will require writing good prose (unless poetry is chosen).

What is good prose?

Good prose is writing which compels the reader to read on.

It generates mind pictures, atmosphere and mood.  It establishes characters and it arouses curiosity about them and their circumstances, relationships and motivations. It constructs captivating dilemmas, responses and consequences. It elicits emotional responses. It stimulates thought. It satisfies the aesthetic sense through form, language and storytelling. It feeds the ethical and philosophical sense: it can prick the conscience or offer a mirror to reflect on one’s humanity and the condition of Mankind.

How does an author or writer develop satisfying pieces of writing?

  • Authority, authenticity and finding the heart of the story
  • Imagery, sensory detail and providing a fresh ‘vision’
  • Conciseness, flair and making every word matter
  • Rhythm, euphony and creating  pitch, pace and pause
  • Poise, elegance and shaping a unique narrative

What can you do to find inspiration and develop writing skills

Just do it!

Other things you can practise:

  • Observation of people and surroundings.Image
  • Listening closely to the stories people tell each other.
  • Awareness of all the senses and how they inform our perception of the world
  • Exercise curiosity about what you hear, see and read. Ask yourself questions like: Why might this have happened? What is likely to happen as a consequence? What other possible explanations are there? Who else may have been affected or involved? What may have motivated certain actions? What would the situation have been like? How might the people involved have felt? How would I feel? What would I have done? Etc.
  • Recording your observations as above and your memories of experiences or stories — carry a notebook and pen or use digital notepad.
  • Reading widely and closely — explore a range of text types.
  • Writing a little every day — set aside 5-10 minutes to do writing exercises.
  • Researching specifics of subject matter, place, era, objects etc.
  • Having the courage to step out of your comfort zone and give it a go.
  • Having the persistence to keep at it, to chip away at it, to craft it.                                                    Just do it!

Metalanguage, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and The Misogyny Debate

In Australia, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott are often critiqued in relation to their use of language and are often perceived as lacking integrity on the floor of parliament and in their policy behaviours. Consequently, they have both been subjected to scrutiny of their use of language by fellow politicians, comedians, media personalities and social commentators as well as in the private domain of members of the public.

In the very early days of Julia Gillard’s political rise as Deputy Prime Minister, her strident Australian accent was commented on and criticised– even mocked – by many, especially the educated and upper classes. (Yes, Australia The Lucky Country of The Fair Go does have class stratification.) Consequently, she appears to have undergone enunciation and speech delivery training to modify this, possibly to make it more universally acceptable across ‘class’ accents.

As a female leader, some would argue, she has also been subjected to commentary on her appearance, in both visually evocative words and in visual images (quite tame compared to some) which would not be applied to a male. This coverage involves the metalanguage of visual communication. Whether or not it is truly biased is for you to research, consider and come to your own informed interpretation.

After the famous or infamous Misogyny Debate sparked by Julia Gillards’ short but impassioned speech in Parliament – aimed directly at Tony Abbott’s criticism of her for not taking a stand against disreputable behaviour by The Speaker, Peter Slipper – public debate has raged about whether or not she accurately addressed the term ‘misogyny’ to Abbott. This has become a world wide phenomenon, possibly with significant longevity. See the New Yorker article response here:

Recently, the editorial team of Macquarie Dictionary, a dictionary for Australian and New Zealand English, weighed into the deep waters of this debate by deciding to revise the current  common and public usage of the word ‘misogyny’  and consequently to broaden the definition. Some people have considered this akin to moving goal posts at a football game — mid game. Others consider it a valid reassessment and record of how language use evolves. What do you think?  Please read the Australian Financial Review’s informative article here:

Also peruse the ABC news article; and the Comments section which sometimes includes commentary from the public about the underlying feminist discourse and gender/identity politics as people struggle to clarify definitions and differences between term such as ‘sexism’, ‘chauvinism’ and ‘misogyny’ with varying degrees of insight.

Oh and weighing into the women-living-in-poverty aspect of the misogyny speech debate and politician Jenny Macklin’s ill-thought through comment, here’s a link to an article on The Vine website:


Because of the nature of this particular debate, this is a wonderful and fascinating opportunity to observe both the extraordinary use of language in the halls of power and arenas of media as well as metalanguage being consciously applied to parliamentary and public debate.

What you make of all this, dear reader, is now up to you. Cheers again,



Metalanguage is a term which some students try to avoid approaching because it sounds too intimidating and mysterious.

Initially, I explain it to my students this way:

“Metalanguage is simply the language you use to think, talk and write about how others use language.”


You may engage in using metalanguage for a number of reasons: for example, to describe, to analyse, to endorse, to critique, to educate, to entertain, to manipulate. As a VCE English or English Language student, you will put the first two into practice.

English students use metalanguage to describe and analyse how language is used to persuade in relation to current media issues as well as how writers use language to construct fiction and non-fiction texts. Important aspects of language studied in this way include vocabulary and glossaries, grammar, tone, language devices, accent and dialect and structural, style and genre conventions. For further discussion of metalanguage and course expectations about it, please access the following link and read this informative post by VCE Study Guides.

Parents modelling and overtly teaching their young children the  ‘mother tongue’ are using  metalanguage daily to educate, as do educators teaching first and subsequent languages.

Comedians and social commentators use metalanguage to entertain and/or to evaluate the way in which people use language and the implications of this. When well known public figures have their use of language subjected to such treatment, it is often satiric and often politically motivated. One example is the ridicule attending the tendency of past US president, George Bush, to the language faux-pas. A highly intelligent and educated person can lose credibility if their command of language in the immediacy of impromptu speaking is less than their more considered and reflective written or rehearsed formats. Combined with losing political favour, it is a minefield for a politician thus afflicted.

By contrast, current US President, Barak Obama, showed enormous statesman-like promise in his inaugural speech. However, with the Global Financial Crisis repercussions and an extreme right wing driven backlash, he has come under fire not only for unpopular reforms promised but for being perceived by those wanting reform to be unable to back his promising speech with adequate policy and action. A double whammy.

When it comes to words within a public ‘performance’, appearance means much even if not representative of the content. Metalanguage can be used to discuss aspects of the delivery of the spoken word as well as the written word, to compare and contrast them and to analyse the interaction between them and the implications of how they enhance or detract from each other.

I acknowledge much of this content has a political bent. The ability to apply understanding of metalanguage is an important aspect of critical thinking in any field of human endeavour. In understanding socio-political events, issues and public debate, I consider awareness of language use and how it can influence our thinking and position our perspective as a cornerstone of being a good citizen.

I hope this gives a broader context which helps you to understand the rather pompous term, ‘metalanguage’.



Here’s an example of a poetry glossary or terminology resource; and also a resource for poetry types:

VCE Literature students and others studying poetry may find this alphabetical resource more detailed and extensive in its content:

Of course there are other relevant links you can find in your research.

You are invited to share links with others in the comments section along with other observations.

Introducing The Conversation

For all my Australian readers, especially my students; and of course any interested international readers, I would like to introduce a supplement to the Australian daily news cycle and an antidote, perhaps, to the media hype: I present you The Conversation.

Pics from Samsung 196         Who or What is The Conversation?

(from The Conversation website)

” The Conversation is an independent source of analysis, commentary and news from the university and research sector — written by acknowledged experts and delivered directly to the public. Our team of professional editors work with more than 4,500 registered academics and researchers to make this wealth of knowledge and expertise accessible to all.

We aim to be a site you can trust. All published work will carry attribution of the authors’ expertise and, where appropriate, will disclose any potential conflicts of interest, and sources of funding. Where errors or misrepresentations occur, we will correct these promptly.

Sincere thanks go to our Founding Partners who gave initial funding support: CSIROMonash UniversityUniversity of MelbourneUniversity of Technology Sydney and University of Western Australia.

Our initial content partners include those institutions, Strategic PartnerRMIT University and a growing list of member institutions. More than 180 institutions contribute content, including Australia’s research-intensive, Group of Eight universities.

We are based in Melbourne, Australia, and wholly owned by The Conversation Media Trust, a   not-for-profit company. ”

I commend it to you.