Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Laureate Launch

(This has been reposted from Melbourne High School Library blog)

The Melbourne High School student literary publication, Laureate, has been revived after a ten year hiatus. English teacher, Sam Bryant, has been instrumental in this revival. Melbourne High School celebrates worthy events in style, and thanks to Sam and his colleagues, the Laureate Launch was a successful event which included assistant principal, Dr Janet Prideaux, staff, students, parents and the guest speaker, Judith Rodriguez, renowned Australian poet, author and educator. Since the publication comprised of student writing from 2012, we were pleased to welcome back past students to receive their congratulations and a copy of Laureate.

Here is Sam Bryant’s speech delivered on the day (26 June 2013):

Special guest Judith Rodriguez, parents, students and staff,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you here to this special occasion, the launch of the 2012 Laureate. On behalf of the Melbourne High English Department, I thank you for coming to celebrate the creative writing of MHS students.

Although this is the fourth edition of Laureate, it is now ten years since it was last published. Early last year it was decided that the magazine would be revived as it was recognised that once again there needed to be a student literary publication at Melbourne High School. The students of Melbourne High School have a long and rich tradition of creative writing, and it is fitting that their work will once again be published and shared with the wider school community.

The English Department extends its congratulations to the students who have been selected to appear in this year’s edition of Laureate. This is your publication. Nevertheless, many thanks should also go to the teachers of the English Department for their tireless work in nurturing the students in their creative endeavours, providing them with advice and feedback, and also for proofreading the work submitted for this publication.

It is envisaged that Laureate will now become an annual publication and that it will further the already thriving culture of creative writing at Melbourne High School. Hopefully, a gathering such as this is will become an anticipated event on the school calendar, and one that continues to celebrate and promote the literary talents of Melbourne High School students.

It now gives me immense pleasure to introduce to you our special guest speaker, Judith Rodriguez.

Judith Rodriguez was born in Perth, but lived in Brisbane from the age four until she was twenty-four. Her years at Brisbane Girls’ Grammar School and the University of Queensland are among her fondest memories.

She has published thirteen volumes of poetry.

Judith’s first poetry collection was published in 1962 as part of Four Poets, the others being fellow Brisbane poets David Malouf, Rodney Hall and Don Maynard. In 1974 she began making woodcuts and linocuts for book decorations; these appear in several of her poetry collections, and have been exhibited. In 1978 she was awarded the inaugural South Australian Government Prize for Literature in for the collection, Water Life. Mudcrab at Gambaro’s received both the Sydney PEN Golden Jubilee Award for Poetry and the Artlook/Shell Literary Award in 1981. From 1979 to 1982, she was poetry editor for the literary journal Meanjin, and from 1988 to 1997 she was a poetry editor with the publisher Penguin Australia.

In 1994 she was awarded the Fellowship of Australian Writers C.J. Brennan Prize for Poetry.

Judith collaborated with Australian composer Moya Henderson on the opera Lindy, about Lindy Chamberlain, which premiered in 2003 at the Sydney Opera House, and with Robyn Archer on the play Poor Johanna, produced in Adelaide in 1994. Her long ballad, The Hanging of Minnie Thwaites, with an historical account of the life that led Thwaites, aged 26, to the gallows, was published only last year and along with many of her other works can be viewed on the table over there, and I encourage you to have a look at them after the presentations.

Yet it is significant that Judith has not only shared her passion for poetry and creative writing through her own works. She has also devoted her life to the teaching of creative writing. She taught English at La Trobe University from 1969 until 1985. In 1986 she was writer-in-residence at Rollins College, Florida, an experience commemorated in her ninth collection Floridian Poems (1986). In 1989 she took up a lectureship in writing at Victoria College, which in 1993 became part of Deakin University, where she continued to teach until 2003. Judith has taught literature and writing in universities on four continents and continues to teach at the Council of Adult Education in Melbourne. She is a life member of Writers Victoria, a member of the Australian Society of Authors Council, has chaired the Melbourne Shakespeare Society and continues to work for PEN International.

In 1994 Judith was made a Member of the Order of Australia, for services to Literature.

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Year 9 Art project on paper, iPad and Pinterest

                              

Our year 9s have been working through a project in art which combines the best in hands-on activity, iPad technology and social media. Mihaela designed a project in which students worked through a process starting with research of patterns from different cultural backgrounds and culminating in the students designing their own patterns using the iPad app, iOrnament, and creating an oversized paper plane decorated with their pattern designs.

The research process encouraged students to dip into a rich and diverse cultural store of patterns before deciding on the designs of their own, and including some of the elements of water, fire, earth, air and wood. They were to select one or more of these elements to fuse with the theme of rejuvenation of the spirit and sense of self.

I relish my partnership with Mihaela, Head of Art at Melbourne High School. Every teacher librarian appreciates the teacher who is happy to collaborate, and in my case the partnership is built on respect, reciprocal interests, love of creativity and experimentation,  a desire for excellence, and determination to create a challenging process leading to a synthesis of understanding and original design. After we chatted, I was clear about what Mihaela wanted for the students and how I could support the project. I created libguides with visual examples and links to further resources to get the students started and hopefully inspired.

patterns2

My research into examples of patterns within a broad range of cultural contexts was a joyful task for me. Pinterest is a rich online resource which allows the discovery and collection of an enormous number of high quality visual examples. I searched The Grammar of Ornament on Pinterest and was overjoyed with the results.  I referred the students to the Symbol Dictionary online for a bit of research on symbolic background. Delving into the how and why is always fascinating, and often informs the direction of research.

I didn’t want to overwhelm the students so I limited my pattern examples to some of the main cultural sources, but also linked to Pinterest boards I was creating along the way. If the students chose to, they could continue to browse collections of general patterns, and also African, Australian Indigenous, Chinese, Indian, Islamic, Japanese, Maori, Mexican, Moroccan, Russian and Turkish.  One of the advantages of using Pinterest is that you can continue to add visual examples to the collection without changing the link, so students will be able to view a continuously edited collection with one url. Students can also search within Pinterest itself. Design of online resources presents the challenge of depth without overwhelming the user, and a reasonable number of external links for further research.

The students were also introduced to four artists for whom patterns were an intrinsic part of their art works. I created Pinterest boards for Shirin Neshat, Ah Xian, Ginger Riley Munduwalawala and Sangeeta Sandrasegar.

     

It’s a shame that the quality of the images in the following slideshow is not fantastic. I’ve included some general art study, such as colour theory, amongst the Pattern mix. Although you can’t read some of the text, you get an idea of the type of process journalling they have done.
The best part of this project, as far as I’m concerned, is the richness of the process. This is what I love about art – it is an example of the kind of process which should be embedded in all subjects. I was intent on documenting this patterns project in a blog post because it makes transparent what is most valuable about learning – the process of research (wondering, browsing, getting lost, refining search), working and re-working ideas and techniques, synthesizing found and created concepts and ideas, evaluating and reflecting and much more. Wouldn’t it be a smart world that required all students to study Art?

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